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Photo Contest Insider Blog

2 Quick Photo Hacks for Your Post-Editing Process

February 12, 2016

Featured Image Credit: “Smile Eyes” by Orin Zebest via Flickr

Post-processing can get extremely tedious when you have 37 photos in your queue and they all have varying degrees of issues and work to be done. Here are two quick-and-easy “photo hacks” to help you make big changes to your photos with very little effort in Adobe Photoshop.

Photo Hack #1: Neutralize the tone of a photo with the Average Blur Tool.

When working outside of a studio, bad lighting can sometimes be completely out of your control. Maybe the walls of the room you’re shooting in are bright blue, or maybe your party host has an affinity for neon signs. Perhaps a moment came and went while your flash was mistakenly turned on, or you could never seem to get the right white balance.

There are many ways to fix these kind of issues, but this technique is the quickest and most convenient, and it works especially well when one color is dominating an entire photograph, which is the case for the following image.

The Problem

One color is dominating the photograph, causing the tone to be all out of whack.

The Solution

1. Duplicate the Background layer and name the new layer “Average Blur.”

step 1

Step 1 b

2. From the menu at the top, select Filter > Blur > Average.

Step 2

Step 2 b

3. Press Ctrl + I to invert the layer (Image > Adjustments > Invert works too).

Step 3

Step 3 a

4. Change the Blending Mode of the Average Blur layer to Color.

Step 4

Step 4 b

5. Adjust the Opacity of the Average Blur layer until the photo is neutralized.

Step 5

Now your photo is neutralized, and you have a “blank slate” to work with!

Photo Hack #2: Bring out your subjects eyes using the Burn and Dodge Tools.

Sometimes, the difference between a photo that looks like a snap you took of your friend with your phone, and a professional-looking, striking image is simply the use of the Burn and Dodge Tools. This technique has been used since the days of film! We’re simply using a digital version of it to achieve a similar effect.

Portrait 1

The Problem

The subject has beautiful eyes, and you want to make them stand out more!

The Solution

1. Press Ctrl + Shift + N to create a new layer, and name it “Dodge Tool Eyes” or something similar. Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to fill the layer with a merged copy of your current image.


2. Select the Dodge Tool from the tools menu. Right-click the icon to make sure you have the right one selected. Play around with the settings at the top to adjust the Hardness and Size of your brush, as well as the Exposure (effectiveness) and Range (you can make the tool affect Highlights, Midtones, or Shadows). Below are the settings I used for my photo.



3. Use the Dodge Tool on the eyes to brighten the areas. I usually go over the entirety of each eye first to brighten the white areas, and then a few more times on the irises. This will be different for every photo, so just trust your instincts and follow your own tastes.


4. Duplicate the Dodge Tool Eyes layer, and rename it “Burn Tool Eyes” or whatever else you want.



5. Right-click the Dodge Tool icon, and select Burn Tool. Adjust the settings as you did for the Dodge Tool.



6. Run the Dodge Tool over the irises, especially the edges and right under the eyelid, to create contrast and to bring out the color.


7. Go back over the irises once more with the Dodge Tool for good measure (don’t skip this step! It can make a big difference).


Now her eyes really pop! You can adjust the opacity of these layers to decide how subtle or extreme you’d like this effect to be.