Make your pictures POP!

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Original Post

bomobob says

Make your pictures "POP"; and doing it right is much easier than you think.

A common problem for many photos is their lack of dynamic range. Dy-what? That's the range of tones, from lightest to darkest in a photo, and extending the dynamic range is the single biggest difference between photos that look kind of flat, and those that jump right off the page. It's probably the biggest difference between a potential sale and no view at all.

This is especially true in thumbnails, and thumbnails are the one and only chance you have to make someone click on your item. It's the first thing they see while browsing your shop or browsing a general section, and this is where you want to grab people's attention.

To use a simple analogy, think of a stereo. If the sound is sort of flat, what do you do? Do you turn up the volume? Nope, you play with the bass and treble to make the lows lower and the highs higher.

It's the same with photos. Playing with the brightness and contrast is what most people to do add punch to their photos, but you know what? It's a little bit like just turning up the volume. The Brightness control just makes the whole picture brighter, including the dark stuff. That sucks. And contrast actually just adds distortion in most cases. That sucks too.

What you really want to do is stretch the dynamic range. In geek terms, this means adjusting the white and black points, but who the hell knows what that means? Well, you don't really have to. All you need to know is HOW to do it. And it's dead simple.

Double click on the file to edit it.
Click the tab that says "Tuning"
Look for the lightest spot in the photo, the bit that's closest to white.
Now slide the "Highlights" slider until that area is nice and white. If some other spot starts getting too bright, then just concentrate on that spot instead.
Now look for the darkest part of the photo, and slide the "Shadows" slider until it's as dark as you'd like it to be.
See the difference? That's "POP".

Click the "Exposure" button.
Click the "Advanced" button. (don't be scared!)
See the little box that pops up on the right side with the scary graph?
Drag the "Highlights" slider until the blobs on the right side of the graph get close to the right edge of the graph.
Now drag the "Shadows" slider until the blobs on the left get close to the left side.
That's "POP".

Click on Image>Adjustments>Levels…
Uh-oh! Scary graph alert! No sweat…
Right below the scary graph, drag the little black triangle to the right until it's just below the part of the graph where the blobby curve starts going up towards the right.
Now drag the white triangle towards the left until it's near the part of the curve that starts rising up towards the left.
Click the "Preview" box off and on to see the difference. Some difference, huh?

Posted at 8:30am May 10, 2010 EDT


Wonderful advice, thank you!!!

Posted at 8:33am May 10, 2010 EDT

thevault says

Cooool! I can't wait to try this - Thank you!

Posted at 8:33am May 10, 2010 EDT

Thank you for sharing Bomobob!!!! That is great. Does the neutral color picker have anything to do with this when you are using Picasa? I have always wondering what that was. This thread is great.

Posted at 8:34am May 10, 2010 EDT

Jaydemia says

thanks for the reat tips... now i want to start trying :D

Posted at 8:35am May 10, 2010 EDT

and book marking - thank you very much


Posted at 8:36am May 10, 2010 EDT

battysbath says

Great tips! I love playing with levels in photoshop :)

Posted at 8:36am May 10, 2010 EDT

rrizzart says


Posted at 8:38am May 10, 2010 EDT

great advice bob! I'm off to picasa to try it, I really appreciate your taking the tme to help educate us!!

Posted at 8:39am May 10, 2010 EDT


Posted at 8:40am May 10, 2010 EDT