Many people use this style of colour adjustment to make their images look new and trendy. This type of image works best when there are lots of yellows and oranges in the background because those colours are the most vibrant and are the easiest to adjust in Photoshop.
For this tutorial I will be using Photoshop CS6, but this will work in all modern versions of Photoshop and other image editing/processing software.
Note: This is for beginners and intermediate users of Photoshop.
Here is the image I am starting with:
Firstly, we need to crop the image to remove the unattractive edges and imperfections.
As we can see I have used the “crop” tool and removed some space at the top and to the right, this is to keep the rectangle image shape and to remove dead space.
Next we need to add some image adjustments, these are the most important changes but every image is different so trust yourself with making decisions on the intensity of particular filters and adjustments.
This is where the image adjustment settings are.
To start we will duplicate the base layer/background and apply “curves” to the image.
To duplicate the selected layer you need to press CTRL+J (COMMAND+J for MAC).
You need to click “curves” which will bring up this box with a line through the middle. (pictured above)
To get the instagram look we need to make the dark areas darker and the lighter areas brighter but without losing the colours and detail. (This can take time especially with a dark image, remember that we will be adjusting the brightness later so it will be lighter than it appears after applying curves).
The line should look like an elongated “S”. (Pictured below)
Next we apply “levels”, this is a very powerful adjustment as it allows us to change the brightness and contrast of every part of the image. For this style we can let the software do the work for us and use the preset: “Midtones Brighter”. This will now flatten the image and bring back the colour and detail we lost when adjusting the “curves”.
So, now we have an image that is very similar to the image we started with. We need to remove some of the lighting in the sky in my image and add a colour filter to make it look more orange.
Now, we are finished. Feel free to add other adjustments and play around with them, I normally add a “brightness/contrast” layer on top of everything to get some control over the whole image.
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