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[tweetmeme]Post-Processing (or photo editing) is what makes a good photo great. Cameras produce a good starting point, but post-processing is where the magic happens. If you’re feeling a little bored with your current arsenal of Photoshop techniques, try out some of these creative post-processing tricks to boost your artistic style.

As you can see, many of these photos apply multiple Photoshop techniques in addition to other techniques not listed here. So if you see a photo that intrigues you, ask yourself why. If you like it partly due to the post-processing, try to imitate the technique on your own photos.

[tweetmeme]And as for how to do some of these things… maybe we’ll save that for another day (update: I’ve actually added links to each of the main points).

If you enjoyed reading this article, take a look at the other Photoshop Tips in my archives.

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Great post Brian! Looks like we’re thinking along the same lines again. After I got off the phone with you last night, I took a break from Warcraft and worked on a draft in my queue about photoshop effects.

The difference? My post will be on effects that *won’t* save your photo :P

Let me know how WP-Cache works out for you, I’m curious to hear.

BTW, what do you think of BlogRush so far? I like it, but the lack of stats is driving me up the wall. I can’t tell if I’m getting hits yet or even if anyone signed up via the referral links I used :P

September 17, 2007 1:36 pm

Great minds think alike. Your article sounds intriguing.

The wp-cache plugin seems to be working correctly, and so far my hosting company hasn’t shut anything down after a bit of traffic this morning. I hope it will buy me a few months before moving up to a semi-dedicated or dedicated server.

I’m not sure what to think of BlogRush yet — it has potential to be effective. I like the fact that I’m seeing relevant articles show up, and that’s the only reason I’m leaving it up for the time being. Just looking at my own stats, I’ve had 5 visitors today from the widget. It’s not huge traffic, but it’s better than nothing.

September 17, 2007 2:53 pm

WOW! This post has created quite a stir in the StumbleUpon community (thanks for submitting the article Darren, and thanks to all the great Stumblers out there). It’s even made it to the “Buzz” page for the “Photos” category.

No love from Digg though… what’s up with those people? Don’t they know a masterpiece when they see it?

September 18, 2007 12:46 am

This is a really good post, Brian. I think the trick here is not the knowledge of all those Photoshop techniques, but applying the right technique to a given image.
Most of the photos above look very natural, even though they’ve definitely been touched up.

September 20, 2007 12:27 am

Thanks Vivien, that was what I was going for — to inspire and spark interest, rather than teach the specifics of how to do each technique. This also gives me the opportunity to expand on these topics for future articles where we CAN get into the technical details.

September 20, 2007 1:45 am

Some years ago I used to think that other people’s photos were much better than mine because they had better cameras. I’m amazed what editing can do to a photo. I liked your examples very much.

September 20, 2007 3:28 am

I’m always quite amazed at the results of post-processing too, even with my own photos. It can make a world of difference if you know the right techniques and apply them intelligently.

September 20, 2007 4:03 am

Thanks for the interest, it’s good to hear feedback like this. I’ll try to keep it in mind for some of the future articles.

September 21, 2007 8:51 am

This is a useful post as am just learning Photoshop…thanks for sharing:)

September 24, 2007 6:08 pm

Hi Brian. I really liked that high contrast B&W picture you posted on your list of photoshop techniques above. But the link associated with it leads to a page with 12 ways to make B&W conversion. I’m trying to find which one was used to furnish this particular photograph. Can you please mention which technique was involved?

September 27, 2007 4:08 pm

The B&W photo belongs to Gregor Winter as stated below the photograph — you’d have to ask him. Any of those techniques could have been used for the B&W conversion, but the high-contrast part probably came from something like a levels or curves adjustment. Again, though, you’d have to ask him. I’ll drop him a note to see if he’ll share a few of his techniques for that one.

September 27, 2007 5:38 pm

hi Naser.
here is how i processed the “subway moment”.
programs used : lightroom and PS

in this one i knew before shooting that i wanted to create a b&w.
first of it is important to know how it was shot.
a look at the metadata reveals an effective focal length of 320 mm 1/25! sec f5,6 at iso 800!.
that was due to the slow lense used.
so i bursted some shots which were all 1 stop (or more) underexposed.
first i went into lightroom which is my raw processor of choice and started tweaking the hell out of my 12 bits of data.
since the shot was underexposed i “corrected” the exposure(+1,5) which pushed the grey tones more towards white and brought back some detail in the darker areas.
i created a slight s curve in lightrooms tonecurve panel.
then i desaturate all colors.
pushed the black slider up to 30
pushed the fill light up to 35
(by now the image already looks 90% of the final)
then (still in color mode!) go to the hsl panel and play with the luminance sliders-> this way you can localy lighten or darken areas of (what used to be) color.
then of course the usual adjustments like clarity vibrance hues etc(yeah hue even though its a b&w)

then in photoshop i usually do minor levels and curves adjustment but not here.
finally in every b&w i do some dodging and burning.
i create a new leyer-> fill it with 50% grey set blend mode to multiply and start dodging the lighter parts and burning the midtones and shaddows to create some more contrast locally
.that way it is non destructive and i can always go back.

to sum it up:
-think bw while shooting.
-here undereesposing helped to keep the subjects well toned while the highlights(former midtones) almost blew out.

of course there are a lot of ways to achieve the same results.
and every photo requires different methods.

hope that helped you

enjoi shooting

September 27, 2007 7:08 pm

Great stuff Gregor — thanks a lot for giving us some of your “inside” secrets for this outstanding photo.

September 27, 2007 7:19 pm

absolutely lost me at the first sentence: “Post-Processing (or photo editing) is what makes a good photo great.”

I could not disagree more.

October 8, 2007 12:48 pm

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. This is my own personal view on the matter, partly because I’ve never come across a truly great photo that was untouched by post-processing. And when I say post-processing, I’m including darkroom work for film photos. From what I’ve seen, cameras produce a great starting point, but I’ve never had an image come straight out of the camera ready to print.

Maybe you can change my mind on the matter — show me an amazing photo that absolutely couldn’t be improved by post-processing.

October 8, 2007 1:50 pm

Texturize is my favorite – I use it quite allot. Second place grain, third place high BW and oversharp.
As for no-processing photos, I’ve heared most of the National Geographic pictures are almost unprocessed and still fantastic – the secret is to use the right filter for each photo, and, to shoot at the right time of the day (natural morning light for example), plus, a good SLR as a tool – gives good sharpness.

October 9, 2007 1:02 am

Thanks for these images.
it’s so great
I’m so crazy about abstract images

December 18, 2007 5:02 pm

Great tips! Thank you!

December 27, 2007 2:16 am

I’m looking forward to giving these a try, especially the high contrast color and b&w.
I really like the example photo of the sunflower for vignette, but I think it’s more than just the vignette that makes it pop. It’s the vividness of the colors against the muted background combined with the vignette effect.

January 20, 2008 10:22 pm

My god! One of the best photography article that i have come across.


February 10, 2008 9:18 pm

These are realy grat tips. Thanks for this work you do.

February 11, 2008 4:19 pm

Some interesting effects here with good examples, thanks.

April 25, 2008 5:04 am

They are 9 great tips, thank you very much!

Its incredible what a powerful and amazing piece of software Photoshop is.

May 1, 2008 6:00 am

I came thinking I’d get a couple tips and found out I have a long ways to go in my Photoshop learning. Very good article. I’m your newest feed subscriber.

May 7, 2008 10:35 pm

The high contrast color and the high color saturation, don’t even look like photos – they look more like art. I love it. Thanks for the great info.

June 29, 2008 12:46 am

Those are some really nice effects and simple as well. To get some good results a picture has to be suited to the effect and that needs some experience.

August 2, 2008 7:54 am

Great post. You’d really be surprise what a little slight modification to a photo can to transform it from just okay to phenomenal.

August 20, 2008 12:41 am

I particularly like the vintage look. Its great for photographs taken in the fall. I will try and work with some of my photographs from my Fall trip to Athens Greece.

September 9, 2008 8:35 am

found this post really useful, i will definately try all these tips given by you and thanx keep writing more useful information

November 11, 2008 1:15 pm

Yet another great photoshop reference post. Off late, I have been doing some research on making some nice background for my twitter profile and newly purchased WordPress theme. Since I don’t have photoshop I am trying to do whatever is mentioned here in GIMP :)

Creating a logo is another task… I m going through your posts one by one at leisure, though the main focus is on editing digital photos and not necessarily logos/hearders

January 9, 2009 1:02 pm

Photoshop is an amazing piece of software. Would like to see more in depth how to’s on the techniques. This article is just scratching the surface of what can be done. I particularly like the high color saturation technique…of course they all have their uses and knowing when to use them is the key.

January 12, 2009 1:20 pm

Excellent post Brian. I really loved what you did with the B/W. I think bumping the contrast really makes it pop… Keep up with the great techniques…

January 17, 2009 8:39 pm

I think B&W tweaking is great, it really brings out the "expression" of a photographer.

Photoshop allows us to bring so much more value to our work! The possibilities are simply endless.

Thanks for sharing your work.

March 15, 2009 11:21 am

I love experimenting with photoshop, there are so many features that are available. I’ve made a note of these and will give them a try!

March 31, 2009 1:21 pm

I recently got Adobe Photoshop and I got to admit, it is harder than it seems to make amazing pictures like you did. The contrast and the whole entire feel of the photo is amazing. I love the teal contrast that outlines her facial expression, which was just jaw dropping.

April 3, 2009 8:33 pm

very useful Photoshop techniques . honestly Brian I’m Learning A lot from you … and your blog is great institute for my kind of newbies

April 19, 2009 6:52 am

high contrast saturation MIGHT result in great effects but usualy it results in pretty unprofessionaly looking pictures. I belive you need to be really good at doing those to even start using this technique.

May 7, 2009 12:38 am

LOL LOL ROFL ! U N00BZ0rZ get real cams and film and get some real photos instead of using ur pirat3d copies of stupidshop to make fake bullshit photos :P
$60 cam + $1 xpired film >>>>>> $3000 digital SLR + pir4t3d software :P :P :P LOL LOL ROFL LOSERS NOOBS k3k3k3 ROFLMAO STFU

July 16, 2009 6:00 am

Some great techniques, although I am always a sucker for the high conrast effects that you bring in here. The techniques are brilliant but it has to be said that your source material is very good to start with too.

July 16, 2009 11:59 am

I really need to learn some more photoshop techniques after seeing what you have done here Brian. I’m just new to photography so your site is a great resource to me.

January 30, 2010 7:38 am

Some of these pictures look shopped. I can tell from the pixels and from having seen quite a few shops in my time.

April 24, 2010 7:22 pm


April 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Comment now!