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Photo Editing: Add a Little Pop by Kelly Noel 09/13/2009

Hi! I hope you all are having a wonderful fun filled weekend! :) I'm here to share a little photo editing magic with you. This is a quick method I use for brightening my photos and giving them a little extra pop of color. This is my original photo, straight out of the camera....


And here's my photo after editing...much brighter and more colorful, huh?
I use Photoshop Elements 3.0 to edit my photos...most of you all probably have a newer version, but the steps are the same, so hopefully this will translate well w/newer versions too.

The first step is to open the photo you want to edit and then create a background layer. You do this by simply clicking on the photo in the layers palette and dragging it to the layer square just above it. You can see the square highlighted in the screenshot below...

Next, we want to brighten up our photo...this one is a tad underexposed, so we'll use the screen layer to bring some light to the photo. Simply choose 'Screen' in the drop down menu of the layers palette.

You will see when you first click screen, your photo will look freaky bright and unnatural, so you'll want to adjust that a bit before we move onto the next step. To do that, just go to the opacity slider in the layers palette and slide it to the left...adjust this to suit your taste.

Now that we have added some light to our photo, we're going to merge these two layers before moving onto the next step. Simply go to 'Layer' on the menu and click 'Merge Visible'.

In this next step, we're going to play a little more with the lighting. So, go to 'Enhance' on the menu, then down to 'Adjust Lighting'.


A small window will pop up and you'll see 3 sliders and a graph. These adjustments are made to my personal preference...I don't have a special formula or anything. Mostly, I just play with moving the sliders until I get the look I'm after. The majority of the time though, I move the middle and right sliders to the left a bit and the left slider to the right just a touch. Doing this will add some contrast to your photo, which will create that "pop" we're after. When you're finished, just hit 'OK' and we're ready to move onto the next step.

Now, we'll add some more color to our photo. Go back to 'Enhance' on the menu, down to 'Adjust Color' and click 'Adjust Hue/Saturation'.

Another small window will pop up and you'll want to adjust the slider on the 'Saturation' scale. Move the slider to the right just a little...I usually try to stay between 5 and 10 to maintain a natural look.The final step is sharpening. We'll do this using the 'Unsharp Mask' feature. Click 'Filter' on the menu, then down to 'Sharpen', and finally 'Unsharp Mask'.


When the 'Unsharp Mask' window pops up, we'll make a few changes to the numbers and then we'll be all done. A good benchmark for sharpening photos of people is Amount: 75, Radius: 2 and Threshold: 3.

After you've entered those numbers, just click 'OK' and that's it! It seems like a lot at first, but I promise once you get used to it, you'll be doing it lickety split. :) Here's the before and after again...
I hope you enjoyed the photo editing tip...if you try it out for yourself, be sure to share a link of your before and after here. Have a great rest of the weekend! :)