Tutorial for Adobe® Photoshop®

Making Your Photos Shine - Part 1

Jenny BinderBy Jenny Binder

Week of December 1, 2008

Have you ever looked through the pages of a scrapbooking magazine and thought, “Wow, those photos are great!  I wish my camera took shots like that.”  Then you glance over at your camera and before you know it, camera envy sets in.  But wait!  Before you go shelling out the bucks for a different camera thinking it will produce magazine-quality photos, let me share a secret with you—almost all “amazing” photos have been tweaked after they were taken.  And although I can’t fix every photo problem you encounter, I can show you a few of the quick tricks I use to take my photos up a notch or two.

photos shine

Before I start, I feel like you should know that for every “pretty good” SOOC (straight out of the camera) photo I have, I probably have 25 lousy ones.  Not every shot is going to be worthy of post-processing, and once you remember that, it takes a tremendous amount of pressure away to “fix” every photo you take.  So relax, pick out a photo you really like, and let’s get started!

Tip 1 - Color Correction

This can be a pretty complicated subject in itself, but here are two things I try fairly often to bring the best colors out in my photos.

  • Click Image>Adjustments>Auto Color.  Photoshop adjusts the color of your image automically.  Sometimes I like the results…sometimes not.  If you’re not satisfied  with the automatic results, press Ctr Z (Mac: Cmd Z) to undo and try this next option instead.

  • Image>Adjustments>Variations. (Variations is clear down at the bottom.) Now you’ll see a dialog box where you can increase certain colors. 

photos shine

  • Across the top, you’ll find two thumbnails, the first one is of your original photo, with no adjustments.  The second one is a variation that Photoshop has generated.  The settings should be set to adjust Midtones and the arrow should be right in the middle of Fine and Coarse.  The seven photos to the lower left show you what different variations in color would look like, except for the very center one which shows the changes you have already applied, if any.  Watch the center image change as you click on any of the surrounding six variations.  To create a more dramatic change, move the little arrow above more to the Coarse side.  To create a less dramatic change, move it more to the fine side.  To start over, click on the thumbnail labeled “Original” in the upper left.  When you are finished, click OK to apply the changes to your image.

    My photo needed more yellow to help out the skin tones, but not a lot, so I moved the arrow one step closer to fine, clicked on the More Yellow thumbnail once, and then OK. 

photos shine

Tip 2 - Contrast

I almost always increase the contrast of every image I want to post-process.  To do this, click Image> Adjustments>
Brightness/Contrast. Move the Contrast slider to the right. Sometimes it needs a lot, sometimes just a little, so carefully watch your image and stop when you think it looks just right.  Click OK.

My photo is off to a great start, but there’s more to come!  Watch for next week’s tip where I’ll show you two more steps I take to make this photo shine!

photos shine

Credits: Tutorial by Jenny Binder, www.HeirloomScrapbooks.com.

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