Photoshop tip – easy effect for more punch to your images

Photoshop tip – easy effect for more punch

Here is a well-known Photoshop technique – one that I like and use on occasion. It desaturates the photograph, while also compressing the tonal range. It creates a modern look that also looks quite trendy. It is also quite easy to apply, by dragging the layers from a reference image once you’ve set it up.

Starting with the original image, I add these two layers:

The important layer here is the Gradient Map adjustment layer. You select it by right-clicking on the icon shown below.

The Gradient Map layer creates quite a nice B&W image. But by changing the Blending Mode to “Soft Light”, the color returns, and the image is quite contrasty … and under-exposed. For this, we add another layer – Levels – to help lift the exposure.

Adjust the opacity of both layers.

Here are the two images in succession – the original, and the effect – so you can see the change.

As you can see from the screen-capture of the layers there, I did use the Portraiture plug-in for some initial skin softening.


camera settings & photo gear (or equivalents) used during this photo session

  • camera settings: 1/250 @ f5.6 @ 400 ISO .. manual off-camera flash

7 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 5naftoli says

    i somtimes do this in LR by dragging down the vibrance or saturation a bit then and add contrast, and possibly brighten highlights…

  2. 6MikeO says

    could you explain how this could be accomplished in lightroom? Looks like a highlight boost, some black clipping, higher contrast, I’d appreciate some tips!

    Thanks! Great site you have here.

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