Walkthrough on how to add more detail and added contrast to an image

Hey folks and I hope that you are all well on this Jubilee long weekend!  What an amazing weekend it has been – and although it has rained in London, it has not been a washout!

Recently, I have received a number of people asking me what do I do in post production to some of my images of late – and this post will be covering just that.  The walk through will not cover dealing with blemishes/eyes and other aspects of retouching, just how to achieve the detailed high contrast effect.

Now the image which I have chosen is from a recent studio shoot, and the clothing that Julian is wearing will really highlight the effect.

As you can see the original image is flat and rather two dimensional, whereas the second has a lot more detail and contrast.  So how do we achieve this effect?

I will assume that you have already opened your image within Photoshop for the purposes of this walk through.

Original Image

1    Press Control/Command J to duplicate the image.
2    Go to Filter and select Convert for Smart Filters
3    Once you have opened it as a Smart Filter go to Sharpen and select Unsharp Mask
4    Select Unsharp mask and the filter will open where you can adjust the     Amount/Radius/Threshold.  The way in which I use this is to move all the dials to 0 and only     adjust the Amount and Radius sliders.  Start at about Amount 15 and Radius 15 and make sure     that you click Preview so you can see the before and after.  Here you can see what the image     looked before you applied your filter, so if you would like more, or less, you can adjust the     sliders to taste.  (You may find that you have halo’ing as you have opened a Smart Filter you     will see a white coloured Layer Mask.  Click the layer mask to activate it, and select black as     your foreground colour.  Then carefully go around the outline of your subject to remove the     halo).

Added Contrast

This should conclude the contrast, and now press Control (or Command), Alt, Shift and E and this will merge your layers that you have been working on.  You could at this stage create a New Group from Layers should you so wish.

5    Go to your Blend Modes and select Vivid Light and you will see a radical change to the image.
6    Invert the image using Control, or Command, I and go to Filters.  Once clicked and selected go     to Blur and click Surface Blur.
7    What you will have on your screen in front of you are Radius and Threshold.  I would advise     to start at 20 for both Radius and Threshold.  Once you have pressed OK the filter will start to     apply.  Sometimes it can take a few seconds. However when it is completed you will have an     image that does not appear ‘right’ and the Blend Mode will therefore have to be changed.      However, as this layer has already had its blend mode changed, you will have to Merge the     layers pressing Command (or Control), Alt, Shift and E to merge them.  Now you will see that     you will be able to change the blend mode so select Overlay or Soft Light.

Final Image

As you can see from the before and after images you can see from the head down to the jeans that there is more detail, contrast and punch.

Please feel free to leave your comments/thoughts below and you can always join my Facebook page where you will find special offers and deals on shoots as well as other images from various other projects.

Thanks for reading!


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