Categories: Tips & TricksTags:

Have you ever opened up a photo with the intention of making it look better, but don’t know where to start? Or, are you already finished with your basic edits but are unsure what to do next? There are a lot of ways to add a finishing touch to a photo, and in this article, I’ve put together five techniques I use with my images that can add a big impact with very little effort.

If you’d like to see more of my photography and post-processing techniques, please visit my YouTube channel.

Use the Orton Effect

The Orton Effect is a fantastic finishing touch for color photographs. It adds a boost of color (without over saturating), contrast and even a subtle (but not too strong) glow to the photo. Some photo applications have this as a preset or filter, but it can also be easily replicated in Photoshop with only a few steps.

Add dimension with dodging and burning

Dodging and burning is a classic way to give a photo dimension and works with all image types. When I use this technique, I treat it as a way to manually adjust the contrast of a photograph by brushing with the black brush over dark areas and using the white brush over light areas. It’s also a great way to intensify pathways and leading lines.

Give the photo a contrasty “grunge” overlay

If you have a photo that has an urban feel to it then this might be a good way for you to enhance your image. It’s a simple process but can create a big impact with a photograph.

Apply a LUT Preset

LUT files are preset files that can affect the color and tone of an image. They are widely used in many photo applications, and applying them in Photoshop is quite simple by using the Color Lookup Adjustment.

Shift color with a gradient map

Another way to boost the color in an image is to change it. There are many ways to do this in photo applications, but one of my favorites is with the Gradient Map adjustment layer in Photoshop. This “maps” colors to the tones in an image, allowing you to shift the color (or change it completely). You can also combine it with blending modes to intensify or alter the effect.

Note: Adobe Photoshop 2020 does not have the Photographic Toning gradients in the drop-down by default, but you can still access them. Here’s how:

In Photoshop 2020, go to Window > Gradients to access the Gradients panel.

Then, click the dropdown on the top-right and select Legacy Gradients.

Now, scroll down towards within the Gradients panel to locate the Legacy Gradients category, which contains the Photographic Toning gradient files.

Have you ever opened up a photo with the intention of making it look better, but don’t know where to start? Or, are you already finished with your basic edits but are unsure what to do next? There are a lot of ways to add a finishing touch to a photo, and in this article, I’ve put together five techniques I use with my images that can add a big impact with very little effort.

If you’d like to see more of my photography and post-processing techniques, please visit my YouTube channel.

Use the Orton Effect

The Orton Effect is a fantastic finishing touch for color photographs. It adds a boost of color (without over saturating), contrast and even a subtle (but not too strong) glow to the photo. Some photo applications have this as a preset or filter, but it can also be easily replicated in Photoshop with only a few steps.

Add dimension with dodging and burning

Dodging and burning is a classic way to give a photo dimension and works with all image types. When I use this technique, I treat it as a way to manually adjust the contrast of a photograph by brushing with the black brush over dark areas and using the white brush over light areas. It’s also a great way to intensify pathways and leading lines.

Give the photo a contrasty “grunge” overlay

If you have a photo that has an urban feel to it then this might be a good way for you to enhance your image. It’s a simple process but can create a big impact with a photograph.

Apply a LUT Preset

LUT files are preset files that can affect the color and tone of an image. They are widely used in many photo applications, and applying them in Photoshop is quite simple by using the Color Lookup Adjustment.

Shift color with a gradient map

Another way to boost the color in an image is to change it. There are many ways to do this in photo applications, but one of my favorites is with the Gradient Map adjustment layer in Photoshop. This “maps” colors to the tones in an image, allowing you to shift the color (or change it completely). You can also combine it with blending modes to intensify or alter the effect.

Note: Adobe Photoshop 2020 does not have the Photographic Toning gradients in the drop-down by default, but you can still access them. Here’s how:

In Photoshop 2020, go to Window > Gradients to access the Gradients panel.

Then, click the dropdown on the top-right and select Legacy Gradients.

Now, scroll down towards within the Gradients panel to locate the Legacy Gradients category, which contains the Photographic Toning gradient files.

Nicole S. Young is a photographer, published author, and educator specializing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography. She is best known for her books on food photography but is widely versed in various photographic genres, including landscape, nature, stock, travel, and lifestyle.

2 Comments

  1. John Lee July 28, 2020 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    great tips Nicole, I use ON1 photo Raw can your tips be adapted to use in ON1. Thank You for your time Nicole. ~ John ~

  2. jim dove August 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    i am sorry but i did not see your reply if this works with on1

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