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Insights & Thoughts

How To Make Colors Pop In Photoshop

By Kishore Sawh on August 31st 2014


Almost universally, it’s agreed that one major mistake many a photographer makes in post processing is over-saturation. From skies to eyes, to everything in between, boosting saturation to far beyond unreasonable limits seems to be a common Achilles Heel for  some photographers. It’s an effort to make their images more eye-catching, and it’s understandable at times if someone has just begun to use a piece of editing software – that they like to see the photo transform before them and pop out. The decision to keep it that way though, is all too often misplaced.

[REWIND: Cheetyr | The Searchable Shortcut Cheat Sheet For Photoshop]

Anyone who shoots wants their photos to stand out; to be appreciated, acknowledged, or simply to instill a sense of pride. There is no shame or harm in that. But truly, if you want your images to stand out, over saturation is not the tool to get the kind of attention you want. That said, taking an image, and manipulating the tones, saturation, vibrance, etcetera, can make it really stand out if done properly. They key is knowing how to do that.


While there is no one who can instill a sense of taste, and your opinions and artistic license are your own, this episode of Phlearn will teach you a way to take your image and make the colors within, pop. Using a few different Photoshop basics in ways you may not have thought of before, Aaron Nace walks you through the editing of 2 different photos where he uses hue/saturation sliders to pick particular colors to enhance, and shows you how to use the sliders in a sort of masking way. The end result is essentially a quick tutorial that teaches you an equally quick, and effective way to choose a specific color range and make those colors, and your image, come to life. (I aways advise to use discretion and err of the side of less instead of more).

As always, if you are a fan of Aaron’s teachings (and who isn’t?), be sure to check back here for updates, and follow along with Aaron on YouTube and Phlearn. You should also consider becoming quickly adept at Photoshop with the Phlearn Photoshop 101 & 201 sets as they are extremely comprehensive, and will have you quickly doing things with Photoshop you may have otherwise thought too complex, or didn’t even know you could do.

Source: Phlearn

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Really a helpful article

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  2. Duc Hong

    really useful tip for making the image pop, great video

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  3. Michael Moe

    love his tutorials

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  4. Clare Havill

    great video Aaron

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  5. Jesse Rinka

    Aaron is awesome…great video/tutorial.

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  6. Chuck Eggen

    I love this tip/tutorial. Have used it a few times since watching the video.

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  7. Wendell Fernandes

    awesome tips though.

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  8. Rafael Steffen

    His videos are really good and he has so many usefull tips! Thanks so much!

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  9. Mark Iuzzolino

    Very cool. Wondering if this technique is something that can be done in Lightroom.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Mark, you can’t brush HSL yet in LR, but you can at least tweak HSL colors independently so if you want to boost greens or blues while leaving warm tones (such as skin) alone, this is entirely possible. In fact SLR Lounge has a few presets for it in V6 I believe.

      As always, it works great if you’re not going to town on your images but when you need to really really finesse every last pixel, then take the time to go to PS. :-)


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