You can perform this exercise on any image, ideally one which actually needs some of the adjustments mentioned here. Then use your processing software of choice to do the following;
– Set the black point and white point. The normal procedure is to close them in until just short of clipping
– Assess and if necessary adjust the brightness of the mid-tones.
– Assess and if necessary adjust the contrast.
– Make corrections to localised areas if necessary.
I used Photoshop for this exercise, and chose an image of my dog at a local park. Below is the original image- as you can see, it’s a perfectly fine photo, but it is a little flat.
I then used the colour sampler tool to close the points in until just short of clipping. I then marked these two points. After this I created a curves layer and manually set my black and white points. This improved my image slightly- making it noticeably less flat as seen below.
I then used Curves to adjust the brightness of the midtones- mainly concentrating on the green areas. This gave my image a further vibrancy and I would be happy to leave it like this, as it looks very realistic and natural.
Finally I adjusted the Contrast by +30, and the Saturation by +10. This gave my image a huge boost in vibrance and contrast, producing bright colours and highlighting the texture and detail. Below you can see my image before and after adjustments.
I really enjoyed this exercise. I was unaware of the technique of setting the black and white points during editing, and was very pleased to learn this simple technique to improve my photos. This was overall a great exercise in showing the basic steps in editing an image.