Photoshop Friday: Selective Levels Adjustments!

I felt as if I were in a post processing slump lately.. I had some good captures that I just feel  like I couldn’t get to “pop” you know? Particularly the faces.. they just seemed too washed out and didn’t have enough detail like the images of photographers who I admire.   And then I started reading this thread on (ILP).   Damien explained how he uses the quick selection tool to see the histogram just for the selected area (like the face) and now I’m totally hooked!

In this tutorial I combine his method for levels adjustments and some of the color pop techniques (the sponge tool) that Andrea Joki uses in her tutorial and throw in some eye pop and sharpening and this is what you get:

Before (Straight out of camera)


and after:


Shocking isn’t it?


PS: I was a little incoherent in the second part.. had a few momentary lapses of focus. Please forgive me!

PPS: you have to be a registered member of ILP to read the threads I posted links to, but it’s free and you will learn so much so why not join?

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ariana says:

You always inspire me Damien! I use this technique still all the time. Unfortunately, as Andrea pointed out this is a horrible edit. Oh well, we all have to start somewhere right? ;)

Damien says:

I’m glad I inspired you, Ariana!

Ashley says:

I love this! I NEVER knew about the sponge tool! I have no idea how…but I didn’t so thank you! It is awesome! I always wondered how everyone brought the color out! So thank you thank you thank you! & I have seen a few different ways to pop the eyes, but I like your way the best!!!! You rock!!!!

Andrea Joki says:

One thing I would recommend is to make sure that you have a correct white balance first. The reason your image looks washed out is that it is too much on the cool (blue) side of white balance – all the yellow has been eliminated. That means any color pop still won’t bring the warmth you are looking for in the image.

If you are shooting raw (and you really really should be, honest!) then go back into your raw converter and change the white balance in favor of more yellow. If you are shooting JPG….well, nothing’s going to help. :(

ariana says:

Glad to help Kristen :)

Kristen says:

Interesting ilp thread, thanks! And once again, your tutorial is fabulous, saved me 13 pages of reading!

ariana says:

Doh! Sorry, fixed all the links. Note that you have to register at ILP to be able to follow them though if you haven’t already.

Kimberly says:

Wow, what an incredible difference. I so need PS. Or Elements. Or SOMETHING!

Meghan says:

Wow! Great tutorial! I’d love to see the original ILP thread. The link doesn’t seem to be working

Keri says:

Ariana, I love these tutorials! Thanks for sharing info with us!