Sunday, 17 October 2010

PP Tips 5 - 'Pop'

This is part of a 'How To' series on post process work.

Note : Another alternative to this method is also here

This process is related to using Photoshop on a Jpeg image, or a converted Raw image.

This process is a little more difficult, but if you take your time and follow the 'recipe' there is nothing too hard about it. As you go, experiment with the values to suit your own taste

Sometimes, no matter how we try to capture an image in it's full and glorious colour, something conspires against us and we end up with an image which simply looks 'flat'.

The image I have used in this example, is one such. It was taken mid-afternoon on a very dull day and under a restaurant awning.

So, how can we get some 'pop' back into the colour ? Well, one way is described below. This is not the only way, but it is quite non-destructive and also gives an 'apparent sharpness' without having to overly apply sharpness.

The original image.

Step 1
Create a duplicate layer.

Step 2
Select Filter/Other/High Pass

Step 3
Once selected, a dialogue box will appear. Select a value for the High Pass filter. Here I am using 250. This typically works very well.

Step 4
Select Layer/Layer Style/Blending Options.

Step 5
Once selected, a dialogue box will appear. Using the top drop-down menu, select Soft Light.

Step 6
Once selected, adjust the Opacity slider to suit. Here, I am using a value of 85. Typically, somewhere between 75 and 90 works well.

Step 7
Select Layer/Flatten Image.

Step 8
Create a new duplicate layer.

Step 9
Select Image/Adjustments/Hue Saturation.

Step 10
Once selected, a dialogue box will open. Adjust the Saturation slider to 25. Less, or greater, values can be used, however, 25 will suffice for this exercise.

Step 11
Select Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur.

Step 12
Once selected, a dialogue box will appear. Here, I have inserted a value of 4.

Step 13
Select Layer/Layer Style/Blending Options.

Step 14
Once selected, a dialogue box will open.

This time, select Color from the drop-down menu. Here, I have  used a value of 90% for the Opacity slider.

Step 15
Select Layer/Flatten Image.

Step 16
This is an optional step.

As I mentioned at the start, this method is quite non-destructive. However, as we have gone through the process, we have accentuated the contrast and this has introduced a small amount of noise. As I intend to also sharpen the image, I also wish to apply a small amount of noise reduction.

To do this, I am simply selecting Filter/Noise/Despeckle.

Well, that's it. It may seem like a lot of steps but, once you have done it a few times, it is quick and straightforward.

The original image.

The finished image.

Note : I have also applied a small amount of sharpening to this.


Other posts in this series - Click here for the index page.



  1. Excellent tutorial, Dave. Well written. I use a very similar technique with my Paintshop Pro X3 but you have a step that I find most interesting. In step 8 you created a duplicate layer for hue/saturation. Later in step 11 you applied a mild gaussian blur to this layer, and this is the part that I had not considered. So a couple of questions … Have you applied the gaussian blur to smooth out any noise that was generated to this point? It seems to me the blending mode you used here (color blend mode) is key in preventing the blur from showing through other layers, which brings me to my second question. I assume the stacking order is very important. Where you have duplicated layers, the newest layer is always on top, correct?



  2. Kevin, Hi. Thank you.

    In this instance, the newest layer is on top. That is how I normally work. However, I doubt it matters too much as when working with layers it is quite simple to select which you wish to work on.

    Yes, the Gaussian Blur is used to smooth things out, in this case colour transitions. Increasing 'anything' in an image will always amplify noise.

    Using Color Blend also means that only the colour is being blended, none of the detail.