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How do you make an image "pop"

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  • How do you make an image "pop"

    OK, I know this is pretty basic, but I have a bunch of images that I would like to improve to put in a scrapbook. Most of them unfortunately are pretty dull. Some of you talk about making in image "pop" - how do you do it?

    The attached photo is an example of what I mean. Bill's skin had a slightly reddish cast and the shirt color is pretty accurate, but I'd like to add some oomph to it.

    Bill is no longer with us and there are so few photos of him, I'd like to make them as lifelike as possible.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    On images like that, if I just want to add a little "snap" to it without doing much else, I usually go into brightness/contrast and add about 10 to the contrast...


    • #3
      I found a curves adjustment layer worked well on this picture. I tried a level adjustment and was unhappy with how sharp the contrast and how dark certain areas got. Using the curves adjustment gave me the ability to tone some of that down.

      Attached Files


      • #4
        Thank you Jak and Lisa, I will try your suggestions.

        I have many regrets in this life - high among them is that I didn't invest in a better camera and that I didn't take more pictures. I have more pictures of Waikiki (taken with an ABC Stores one-time use camera) than I do of my husband and kids.



        • #5
          Sometimes I add some noise or texture depending on the shape
          of the image
          Last edited by Trimoon; 09-11-2002, 02:35 PM.


          • #6

            Like others have said, "pop" typically refers to the contrast in an image. You can increase contrast in a number of ways: Brightness/Contrast, Levels and/or Curves. In general, you want the lightest part of the image to map to white and the darkest part to black. If you want to be exact about it, you can use Threshold to determine the lightest and darkest points, set Color Sample points and then use the eyedroppers in either Levels or Curves to map the highlights and shadows to the corresponding Color Sample points.

            If that is too general of a description for you, just say so and I'll be more specific.



            • #7
              Thanks Jeanie - that explanation is good - I thought there might be some other magic that people did.

              Trimoon - I love what you did!

              Memo to me: go over Trimoon's posts and try to learn what he does.



              • #8
                Hi Margaret! I probably overdid this a bit, but here is my attempt. It's a bit too red and the jpeg monsters are taking over but hopefully this has some "pop"!

                I increased the density of the image using a duplicate layer set to Multiply. I then applied a Levels adjustment to get the contrast right. I also did some basic dust removal and smoothing of the blue channel.

                Trimoon - Excellent idea to turn the image into a more "painterly" image and to remove the reflections in the glasses.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Greg that looks good! Bill was one of those unfortunate people who turned beat red in the sun - and if I remember correctly this was taken on a bright sunny day.



                  • #10
                    Hi Margaret!

                    after trying what everybody else did and settling on the Curves, like Lisa, I thought that it was actually the background that made the whole image 'flat' so...after

                    1) removing the reflection on his glasses,

                    2) I gave the background a slight bluish tinge and run Filter->Render->Lighting Effects.

                    ....It might be a bit too much change....but I think that it made the image 'pop' more....
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      Margaret - Levels or curves are the ultimte approach to gaining contrast without sacrificing detail in highlights or shadows...curves are even better as more control points are on offer.

                      More on the subject can be found at this link to further links, scroll down to curves, levels and colour correction:


                      Stephen Marsh.


                      • #12
                        Thank you Stephen - there is so much good information on that page!! I need to make it my first stop every morning until I can remember it all



                        • #13
                          You might try making a contrast mask layer by duplicating the original layer, desaturating it ,changing the mode to overlay and changing the opacity to 20 to 40% a curve can be applied to the mask layer to inhance the contrast if needed. Finish up using a color balance adjustment layer to bring back the flesh tones. You can use this same technique to open up dark shadows by inverting the mask layer.
                          Hope this helps.

                          Tim Barnes


                          • #14
                            Well hadn't seen all the nice attachments before I tried this..

                            1st thought it looked like a good canidate for "neat Image" taking the sample from the wall.

                            I am glad to get the info on curves and plan to learn something about curve adjustment soon... as it was used auto levels.

                            used a slight gaussian blur to get rid of a bit more noise.

                            I'm sorry if the eyes are way off... there was little info in the pic on them but gave it a shot... as it is ..all the pixels in the eyes came from his eyes as I used the clone brush set at 3 pixels.

                            used " replace color" to select and change the hue of a greenish tone on his face that I had probably created.

                            hope the wall isn't eggshell as I selected that and used "hue and saturation to brighten it

                            well i see you have many good choices.. one more can't hurt
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Looks good Ron - everyone has done such a good job on this picture!

                              Tim - thank you for your suggestions too. I'm taking this week off (I was very close to tossing my Epson 1280 printer off the roof so thought I'd better get some perspective) - as soon as I'm back to work, I'll give your suggestions a try.

                              Thanks everyone,


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