Regardless of whether you may be a seasoned pro or a casual photographer, many of us get into the habit of doing a task in an image editing program the same way. At times, it saves time but it also may not be the best effect for a particular image. This may be true regardless of using a program such as Photoshop or applying Instagram filters.
In the image above, the left pane looked a little flat, so I wanted to add some contrast to the image. In Photoshop, there are of course many ways to do this non destructively using adjustment layers. Of course other programs and plug-ins for programs also offer 'layer' choice so that you can turn on/turn off a layer to see what effect it may have on your final image.
One choice that I had here was to simply duplicate the original image, and within Photoshop, add a 'multiply' blend mode which darkens the image as in the second panel. This certainly added contrast, but what if I thought it was too dark?
Within Photoshop, I have the option to use the levels adjustment and move the leftmost top slide to the right (see highlighted window just below the curve). This will incrementally darken the image to the point where I feel that it looks just right. But, what if I wanted just a little more control?
Again within Photoshop, I could select my curves adjustment layer. By selecting a certain point on the curve and pulling it down, its like pulling down a dimmer switch on an electrical light. I could be very selective as to exactly where on the curve to pull down so that I get just the correct look to the image.
I have mentioned only three methods but of course there are more. Of course there are brightness/contrast controls in Photoshop as well as almost any other program. Many programs allow you to adjust shadows and highlights on an image. By experimenting with different adjustments and filters, regardless of what program that you use, you may be surprised at how much control you actually have over your images!
- Bob Barford is an award winning photographer based out of Southern PA.