5 Editing Techniques for Enhancing the Contrast in an Image

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Contrast is the level of distinction between color tones in a photograph. Making adjustments to black and white tone levels, using an image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, will change the overall color tone of an image. To be precise, by doing that, professional picture editing professionals push dark gray pixels toward black and light gray pixels toward white, which results in increased contrast. This will also mean shadows and highlights or darkest or brightest portions in a photo, subjected to the edits, start to be sacrificed increasing the contrast in favor.

The perfect balance between the contrast and detail depends upon the photographed subject type, lighting used in photography, and the feeling and mood you want to convey; what might be a fine use of contrast in one photo may be not so good for another. Only a photographer with a creative eye and a professional photo editing service professional with experience are required to decide this, and the ideal way to horn these skills is to practice.

The output you get after editing an image is dependent on the shot quality of a photo, subjected to the post-processing. A professional photo editing service can make an extremely poor image better, but it will be very tough to make it look top of the world, so it always best to get take at least decent images. This is true for an image’s contrast, as is any other aspect of it. You have to view retouching as a means of bringing out the good that is already inherent in your photos. The better picture you take, the better it can be turned into after the shoot or photo editing.

Curves and Layer Masks

They are the most useful and powerful tools, at the disposal of just about every professional photo editing service provider out there. In professional picture editing with Adobe Photoshop, when curves are mixed with masks, the quality of the output will certainly be greater than the sum of its parts.

Curves affect two main influences of the light namely tones and contrast. On the other hand, Layer Masks are used in order to conceal pixels and mask the output of an adjustment layer. The black color in a layer mask conceals corresponding pixels in the attached layer and makes them transparent, whereas the white color leaves intact the corresponding pixels in the attached layer; it does not do anything with them.

Dodging and Burning

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This is one of the techniques carried over from the days of darkroom post-processing. Unlike the old way of retouching an image, doing it digitally is less annoying and more accommodating.

Image editors use the low opacity brush paint with black color onto the layer titled “Burn” to darken portions in a photo, and paint with white onto the “Dodge” layer to lighten them, effectively enhancing the contrast.

The technique only helps to exaggerate tonal distinctions present already in a photo, but it cannot really make something out of nothing so to speak. One cannot really dodge a black colored cat to white or burn the sunny portion black. Often, the trick is to observe a photo, find out the darker and lighter parts and where they meet, and apply the effects smartly to bring out these distinctions.

Contrast Un-Sharpening

This technique, which has been around for a very long time, is called by several names such as haze cutting or local contrast enhancement. It involves the use of the filter named Unsharp Mask at a high radius and low amount to enhance tonal transitions between pixels adjacent to each other.

Aside from setting the amount, radius, and threshold values correctly, the key tasks in the process are changing the layer name to “Luminosity” in order to avoid color shifts and reducing the opacity of the layer to suit or add a mask in order to localize the effect.

It is considered an excellent method to apply on portrait images to bring out ‘snap’ in the subject’s eyes and other facial features. Since it is also important, editors apply the mask to ensure wrinkles and other facial flaws will not exaggerate.

The Apply Image Technique

This a relatively less known yet powerful editing function used to adjust the contrast. Essentially, it will take a layer or two, and applying it back onto the main photo with editor’s preferred blending mode. This technique is used to enhance its color, also by toning down its opacity level.

Selective Color Adjustment

This technique is also ideal to do adjust the contrast in an image after any of the aforementioned methods have been applied. It is particularly useful in a professional photo editing service for use with black and white photos, but experts often give it a try on color images also.