Contrast and Sharpening – These I Love Most…

I always let my pictures meet Photoshop – just because my pictures love it.

And who am I to say ‘no’ to them.

They totally love the welcoming and friendly attitude of  this wonderful piece of software.

And how it beautifies them.

They hug and kiss together and then I let them dance in a perfect and happy harmony.

Of all the procedures my pictures love and regularly enjoy, there are two that are their most favorite – increasing contrast and sharpening.

This is the original picture.

I took it last weekend when we (me and my boyfriend) visited one wonderful park in our neighborhood.

I was dazzled by the new-born green leaves that had transformed all nature into a huge energizing pool of pure vitality.

I stood under a tree and noticed how the sun shined through the leaves.

And that made me completely happy.

So I took the picture.

Of course, the story continued…

I opened the picture in Photoshop (not under the tree but when we came back home and I cleaned mud off my shoes).

Anyway, I decided to increase the contrast first.

That’s what I always do as the first thing – because that’s the most wonderful change to a picture I know.

If you’ve never increased the contrast on your photos, then please DO…

You’ll be amazed by how the gray, hazy film (that covers all straight-out-of-camera pictures) disappears in an instant.


Then this window appears – there you click OK.

You’ll see two horizontal lines on the right panel now – so go ahead and play with the contrast to achieve the look you like best.

Then click LAYER  >>   FLATTEN IMAGE.

Now to the sharpening.

Things look better sharper – this is the basic truth.

Now you know it.

(Don’t thank me – send eggnog, please.)

To make your images look sharper click ENHANCE >> UNSHARP MASK (yeah, you use unsharp mask for sharpening, isn’t that fun?).

Then again, play with the numbers to reach the result you find most appealing.

I opted for 170 in the amount window and 1.0 in the radius window.

Because I wanted to keep the picture rather dreamy, I felt no need to go overboard with the sharpness.

And that’s it!

So again, this is the picture before…

… and after.

I love how the veins of the leaf stand out now.

Oh, and the bokeh in the background – that always makes a photographer want to jump with joy.

Before and after.

Just try it, it’s easy.

(And if you don’t have Photoshop, don’t you worry for a second. Go and grab GIMP – it’s a freely distributed photo software and it’s gorgeous. And it’s free.  And have I mentioned it’s for free?)

Have a wonderful day.


Bookmark and Share

5 thoughts on “Contrast and Sharpening – These I Love Most…

  1. 1
    Heavenly Housewife says:

    Great tutorial. I like to photoshop my pictures too. Lets face it, food blogging is really competitive! Sometimes you feel like you have to be a photographer as much as a cook. Great info, I need all the help I can get.
    *kisses* HH

  2. 2
    valen says:

    I had to recently buy photoshop for a college course, but it didn’t start working until after the course had ended! So I’m now familiarizing myself with the software. I wish there was a manual, as there are certain things I just can’t figure out how to do or what does what. This post was helpful!

  3. 3
    msmeanie says:

    Very informative tutorial. I love these two photoshop tools as well.

  4. 4
    zurin says:

    Hi Petra,
    this is a great tutorial. The contrast certainly did make a difference. But I cant find the ‘enhance’ for sharpening. Ive looked all over. Do I have to go to adjustment layer first? hope you can help. Im quite hopeless at this. I do sharpen on photoshop but I go to filter >> sharpen >> smartsharpen. Is that the same?

    tq so much for sharing. you re very generous.

    • 4.1
      zoomyummy says:

      First of all, thank you again. You’re such a sweetheart! The sharpening: I guess (because you have no ‘enhance’ button), you probably own a different version of photoshop – I use photoshop elements 8. But this ‘unsharp mask’ that I use for sharpening was present in previous versions of photoshop too. Just keep searching for unsharp mask, please, it has to be somewhere. Because I think that that tool is the best and it gives you much more control over the sharpening process than the ‘smartsharp‘. Anyway, soon I’ll be posting another and more precise tutorial on sharpening, so stay tuned! 🙂 Petra

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend