I found this way to enrich the color of dull looking pictures especially taken with cheap digital camera. I admit I use one but it is an average one. So to enrich the color, some will use Hue and Saturation, and some may use Levels. But for me, I chose to use combination of Hue and Saturation with Soft Light.
Why? Maybe because it gives nice color but at the same time it does not destroy the picture. By destroy I mean fill the picture with eye sore colors.
1) Okay, this is me and don't laugh. See the picture. Looks dull.
2) First of all, create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Shift + Ctrl + N) and Apply Image (Image > Apply Image).
Use Hue and Saturation of the new layer (Image > Adjustment > Hue and Saturation) and set the value of saturation to 66%.
Set the Blending Mode to Soft Light.
3) Next, create another new layer and Apply Image.
This time Desaturate it and set the mode to Soft Light too but reduce the Opacity to 50%.
To finish up, create another new layer and Apply Image.
4) This is the final effect, see we have change from the bottom to the top. You can bring out the feature of the rock nicer.
5) This is what I done with another picture, the greenery looks greener. and the lake looks more lively.
6) Yet another picture of Cameron Highland, you can bring out the striking effect of greenery from the plants using this method.
Is that all? No, I am going to share some more tricks with Blending Modes and add some effects that looks nice on pictures. Here are some effects that I like to share with you all Photography enthusiasts who don't own a SLR like me.
7) Use the method above and duplicate the final image. The one after you Apply Image one.
Set the duplicated later to Multiply and Desaturate it (Image > Adjustment > Desaturate). Change the Opacity to 50%
In the picture above, the final image would be Layer 4 and the duplicated image would be Layer 5
8) This effect will give a gloomy effect to our picture. From the left part we have the dull picture. The center part we have the rich color and right part, gloomy effect.
9) For this effect, you will make all the color looks old, not dull but rather old.
From Step 8, set the duplicated layer to Darken and Opacity to 100%
10) This would be the same with Step 8 but this time the Opacity is 100%.
Some picture needs darken up some don't, so you need to judge by your own instinct
11) Some picture might need some lower saturation.
On top of all the layers apply an adjustment layer. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue and Saturation. Lower the saturation's value.
12) Final effect, you have this gloomy looking picture without the striking color effect.
13) The next effect are for those picture with similar 'things' from the top to the bottom.
After applying the rich color effect (Step 1 to Step 6), duplicate the final image and use Layer > Layer Masks > Reveal All.
14) On the Mask layer, apply an White to Black to White Gradient from top to bottom. Use Shift-Click to make sure you have a 90 degree slope.
15) Click on the Layer as shown on the picture above. Not the Mask, the Layer.
16) Apply Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur). Adjust the value until you have this effect.
This technique are for those with auto focusing camera, where you cannot focus yourself.
17) If sometimes after applying the rich color effect, we get something we don't expect like this.
18) To fix, add a New Layer and fill it with any shade of green.
Set the Mode to Color
19) Create a new layer and Apply Image.
Set the applied image to Soft Light.
Turn off the Color Layer.
(Ignore the Mask Layer. The black and white thingy beside those layers are called Masks)
20) We have the fixed image at the right part.
21) After applying Step 1 to 6, we get a dark image.
22) The final Applied Image is Layer 4.
To fix, duplicate the Layer 4 for 3 copies. Set the first 2 duplicated to Screen.
Desaturate the final image and set to Linear Dodge (Add)
23) Final effect.
24) Last effect that I like to share here. I think I got this from some where. Sorry if I copied.
We are going to make some blur effect on the white area.
Yes, this final effect are only suitable for image with some revealed part of light.
25) Go to the Channel Palette and Click one Blue Channel.
Load channel as Selection
26) After you have your selection Click on RGB back.
27) Have your Marquee Tool selected and right click on the canvas and choose Layer via Copy
28) Set you new layer to Linear Dodge (Add)
Apply Gaussian Blur on it (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).
You may want to use whatever blur you can find instead of Gaussian Blur. Box blur, Lens Blur, anything. Radial Blur could be a good effect but you need to enlarge your layer by 110% by Transform (Ctrl + T). Radial Blur will give the 'Light Breaking Through' effect.
29) Final Effect of the Final Technique.
Now for some freebies. You can get them from another blog I would like to promote.
Full Images in JPEG
Photoshop Action for Step 1 to 6
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed.