Even though there's a lot I don't know how to do in Photoshop, I manage to do what I want to do. So when Becca asked me last week at MOPS to write a post about how to easily improve pictures, I had a vague notion of how to do that. I'm no Pioneer Woman (who has some great tutorials and Photoshop actions that I use all the time), but I can fiddle around with a picture until it looks better.
There are lots of ways to improve pictures, but for sheer efficiency I do the following two things to improve photos in Photoshop: adjust curves and increase saturation by 15 points or so.
Just for kicks, here's how I do it.
First, I open up my photo. Here's one from our trip. It's when Megan convinced me to ride the teacups. I get dizzy thinking about it.
This is the straight-out-of-camera shot (or SOOC, if you prefer). I use a Sony Cyber-shot, and it's nothing fancy, but we've had some good times together.
Once my photo is open, I click on the little black and white circle at the bottom of the layers window. In Photoshop 7.0 it looks like this:
Click on "curves" and a window will pop up.
Sometimes you only need to put one little spot on the middle of that line and just tug it up a little. That'll do it. Sometimes you might need a few spot to get the lighting right.
As you tweak that curves line, you'll see your photo start to adjust. Depending on what you want depends on what shape that line is.
After adjusting curves (first step), I click on my background layer again and then click on the little black and white circle again and select Hue/Saturation. I bump up the saturation to +14 or so--more if the color was particularly washed out, less if it was already pretty vibrant (never happens with my camera). That's the second step and then you can be done.
Here's how my photo turned out:
There's other stuff I'd do to it (like eliminate that glare spot on her glasses), but for a quick improvement, it's not too bad.
Here's the before and after:
So, Becca, I hope this helps. If it's still too confusing, I'll come over one of these days. I need an excuse to see your new house again anyways.
PS: If you hang out in Photoshop pretty regularly, then you definitely should check out these free brushes and patterns. My only complaint is that some of the brushes don't work on my older version of Photoshop, which is a to be expected I suppose.