Photography tips – Contrast

One thing I have learned is how to add contrast to my photos to make them “pop” off the screen.  This is done in Photoshop, but I think most free programs have the ability to add contrast to a photo, as well.  I know Picassa does on their “tuning” screen.  It is easier to add contrast when turning into black and white picture, due to the changes adding contrast does to the colors in a photo.


SOOC (no edits):


Processed in Photoshop – just a simple conversion with no contrast added.  I just ran the defog (Filter->sharpen-> unsharpen mask -> 20/60/0, and added a Gradient Map adjustment layer.

no contrast

Processed in Photoshop – added contrast through adding the Levels and Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers.  In the Levels layer, I needed to move the triangle on the left towards the center.  I also played with the other two to make sure it didn’t get too dark.  On the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, I decreased the brightness and increased the contrast.  It was plenty bright, so adding contrast made Anya too bright and I needed to offset that and decrease the highlights.  To make it black and white, I added a Gradient Map layer.  Then I added a Hue/Saturation layer to tint the black and white created by the Gradient Map layer and used the burn tool around the edges.

with contrast

Just play with the different contrast settings and you will see what works.  Sometimes adding too much contrast to a color picture will really turn the colors wonky.  You will then need to adjust the color if that happens.

12 Replies to “Photography tips – Contrast”

  1. Thanks for dropping me the comments about the lens and marquee tool. I’ll check into that lens and give the marquee tool a whirl. I was just playing with one of the other photos in that same set of Jo last night, changing it to black and white and fiddling with the contrast. I’ll go back and try what you’ve said here.

  2. Contrast settings are one of the things I’m so leery of because it seems so easy to overdo. I do love the higher contrast look, though, so perhaps I should mess with it more.

  3. Love that wonderful photo of Anya! So sweet!!
    And the theme is so fun…definitely need to mull it over a little and see what we can come up with! 🙂

  4. I don’t have photo shop. I had a program that I really liked on my PC but it doesn’t work on the mac. So … I’m back to square one. My brother told me about a program pixelmator that I’ve downloaded the trial software so I’ll give that one a go. Am going to look at Picassa’s stuff too. I actually have signed up for Picassa to view friends photos but have never looked into what it can actually do … Eventually I’ll have to look into getting photoshop ! Not to worry though … I think I’ll still be able to come up with something to fit the theme CONTRAST !

    By the way … I love the photo of Anya and the man I’m assuming to be her Daddy.

  5. I’m with Alissa. I love contrast-y pictures, but I’m leery of overdoing it. Often I’ll up the contrast, save, and then when I come back later it’s like “what was I thinking?!” It’s a balancing act.

  6. Oh, it is a balancing act. It you add too much contrast it can make the pictures look strange. I know sometimes I overdo it.

  7. Can’t wait to finally get my act together and join up for Theme Thursdays at your place, and I LOVE me the contrast, so hurray!

  8. I have no idea what a Gradient Map layer is! I use an old old free program my Dad gave me called ACDC. I played about a bit wit picnik and quite liked it but was too broke to actually buy it. I have downloaded the Noiseware trial on advice and love that so I may have to save up and buy the real thing. Of course, Himself actually has an old version of Photoshop up in the shed which he keeps promising to get out for me. I think I’ll buy Picnik 😀
    the Theme is a good one. I’ll look for an artistic rather than a technical aspect I think :-DD

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