Increasing image contrast in photoshop

Flowers contrast

Flower from this easter in the garden

Increasing contrast in photoshop is easy and can be done in a number of different ways. I’m going to show you 3 ways of doing it. The first one will require that you set up your photoshop to open jpgs in it’s raw editor (Unless you have a raw file to use). Go to Edit – Preferences – File handling and check “Prefer Adobe Camera Raw for JPEG Files”.

Enabling raw editing on JPEGS

Enabling raw editing on JPEGS

Using the raw editor contrast slider.
It’s quite easy you open your image and drag the slider to get the desired contrast level. The quality of this will be better if you have a raw file you can use. But you can do it a little bit to a jpeg image without getting into problems.

contrast slider


Using the overlay blending mode.
Easy way but not as controlable. Duplicate your image layr and set the top one to blending mode overlay. Now you can play with opacity to get the effect you are after (anything above 25% is not really usuable). Tip: Try soft light for a softer effect.

pheasant getting agree at me

pheasant getting agree at me (half has overlay effect)

Using a curves adjustment-layer (or levels layer)
The option where you have the most control over how the effect looks on your image. You make your adjustment layer can you get the curve to look like a tilted S ( if you are using levels pull your top sliders in to the edges of the histogram. When you are using adjustment layer you can easily change those settings later without loosing quality, that is why I use this most of the time.

Curves adjustment

Curves adjustment

That’s all for now 🙂 As always with photoshop there is many ways to skin a cat. Let me know how you do it in the comments.

2 Responses to “Increasing image contrast in photoshop”

  1. Daniel Meadows Says:

    Instead of using the master curve, you get even more control by using each channel curve. That way your S curves can target the areas of increased contrast by colour, for example the reds and yellows of the bird 🙂

  2. Thomas Says:

    Thanks for the tip Daniel 🙂 I’ll be sure to check it out and see how it works out for me.