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Improving contrast


Link Posted 19/07/2006 - 13:06
Is there any way I could improve the contrast on either of these shots, using CS or PhotoImpact.

The first shot is untouched except for crop and signature
The second, I've removed a lamp post growing out of the girl's head.


Link Posted 27/07/2006 - 18:22
Short answer: Yes.
In Photoshop try the curves (Ctrl+M) on the first one. With a bit of an S-shaped curve you could improve the contrast.

The second one seems to be on the bright side, so I wouldn't change contrast. You could play around with the curves as well. Maybe trying the Shadow/Highlight... could get the highlights a bit darker.


Link Posted 27/07/2006 - 18:57
I sent you a PM.

Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream


Link Posted 28/07/2006 - 12:06
Sorry about the delay, I meant to reply!!

Try this technique (or at least this type) in Photoshop:

* Add a new adjustment layer - Brightness & Contrast
* Click OK when the dialog appears (leaving both settings at 0)
* Change the layer blend mode (in the layers palette) from "Normal" to "Luminosity"
* Now double click the B&C layer and adjust the brightness and contrast controls.

There are three things to note here:
1. Setting the blend mode to "Luminosity" means you won't get colour shifts when you adjust the brightness and contrast.

2. Because it's on an adjustment layer you can click the little "eye" to the left of the layer to toggle it on and off - that gives you a really quick, non-destructive way of modifying the image.

3. If you pick a brush, or the gradient tool (set to "Foreground-Transparent" and set the opacity of the brush or gradient to around 20% you can "paint" the effect in or out. That way you can apply localised adjustments to an image.

Just stack up the layers, experiment with different blend modes and types of adjustment.

As has been mentioned, the curves tool is very powerful once you've learned how to handle it

In the top picture I went for B&C at B=+12, and C=+33 (with Luminosity blend).
In the bottom I went for B=+44 and C=+16 (though her face could do with a further localised lift)

For the face, you can do this:
* Add a new blank layer in the layers palette
* Change the blend mode to "Soft Light"
* Pick a large soft brush, opacity 10% and paint white to lighten
* (You can paint black to darken)
That gives you quick-n-easy dodge-n-burn without affecting the underlying image

If you need more help with layers, I have a couple of tutorials on my website:

Hope that helps!


Link Posted 28/07/2006 - 12:16

All done with layers, as suggested above
Plus a teeny bit of sharpening


Link Posted 28/07/2006 - 12:36
Sorry about the delay, I meant to reply!!

No problem - I'm sure you have a life too. Will try the procedure you recommended.

Peter thanks for the PM.

Thanks everyone.


Link Posted 29/07/2006 - 13:23
If you need to pep up an image without altering the tonal range too much, try using Unsharp mask. Amount 25% Radius 250 pixels Threshold 25 is a good starting point to start playing. works well if you have a bit of flare or an older less contrasty lens.

Cheers Pierre

WJ Bons

Link Posted 19/08/2006 - 08:09
i do not like the adjusted head shot. You see the vains in the face.
The original does not look sharp.....

What i did with your initial image:
Saturation +10 {image/adjustments/hue saturation}
Contrast +5 {image/adjustments/brightness-contrast}

Portraits look better when they are soft.
Never try to oversharp a portrait!

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