I know.... I know.... it's been WAY too long since I've posted a cool photographer's tip. Here's a little something to help remedy that.
I get quite a few e-mails from photographers asking how I get my images to "pop" so much. Before we get into any photoshop tricks, there's two rules I always go by...
1. Start off with a great image. I'm not one who thinks great images can be "created" by Photoshop. The image should be good right out of the camera. Photoshop can certainly take it to the next level, but it certainly helps to start off with an image that works by itself.
2. Start with a good exposure. By nailing your exposure off the bat,you've got more flexibilty to work with the image in Photoshop.
Now that we've got that out of the way, one SUPER simple way to make your images pop is to simply add a softlight layer to your image. (You can also add an overlay layer, but most of the time I prefer softlight layers.)
Softlight layers provide the luxury of adding both contrast and saturation to your image without usually making the image look too over processed.
To do it, simply go to your layers palette and copy your background layer. Click on the drop down menu at the top of the layers palette (it should currrently say Normal) and go down to softlight. Fiddle with the opacity to give it get the right amount.
That's it!! :)
Here's a few before and after images. The "before" are the out-of-camera versions and the "after" has just a softlight layer added, usually dialed down to about 75% opacity.