How to enhance images with Adobe Photoshop

Selective adjustments to color and texture can make images pop.

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Image: Andrey Popov, Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are a few way to make your photos really pop. First, have a compelling composition. Next, use color or texture enhancements. 

I use Adobe Photoshop software to not only enhance colors in an image, but more specifically, detail and texture. Here's how. 

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Selecting the details

With my example shot, I want to make the texture of the river's stones stand out (Figure A).

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Figure A- original image

Ant Pruitt

To do this, I need to use a selection tool -- either the lasso tool (L key on the keyboard) or quick selection tool (W key on the keyboard) -- to circle around the stone of interest. 

It's also good practice to feather your selection so that the edges aren't rough and make your image look "Photoshopped."  To feather your selection:

  1. Go to the Select menu
  2. Click on modify 
  3. Then click feather.
  4.  Set the feather to at least ten pixels.

Next, press control + j to duplicate the selection into its own layer (Figure B). This allows you to work non-destructively on your image. Right click on the new layer and select Create Smart Object. (When you turn a layer into a smart object in Photoshop, you can make changes to any adjustments made on that layer with ease.) 

After the smart object is created, select the Camera Raw filter from the filter menu. This opens Adobe Camera Raw in a separate window.

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Figure B

Ant Pruitt

Camera Raw

Once Camera Raw opens, update the clarity and texture sliders to suit your needs. Adjusting saturation or contrast may help, also. After your adjustments are made, click OK in Camera Raw, and your screen to take you back into Photoshop. 

If you look at the image in Photoshop, and you still don't like your adjustments, double click on the Camera Raw icon found on your smart object layer, and you'll go back into Camera Raw to continue post-processing.

Once finished, it's noticeable how much different the stone's texture is in this image (Figure C) versus the original image (Figure A). You can use this technique multiple times on the same image if necessary. You can also use this technique to adjust saturation and luminosity.  

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Final Image

Ant Pruitt

Try this technique on one of your favorite photos. You'll be surprised how much better some images will look with selective adjustments.

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