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How to Add Zap to Your Images

Published: 23/10/2006
By: larry

I just discovered a great Photoshop (Both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements) tips blog called "Dear Debbie".

Debbie has a post that shows how to ad zap to images. I think this is of particular interest to real estate photographers. You want your images to have that zap that Debbie is talking about. So many images on real estate sites have a dull look. This technique gives images that crisp punch you need for an image to stand out.

Notice that the technique Debbie describes works only if you shoot RAW. It makes use of the fact making image adjustments in RAW conversion does not degrade the image. I think this technique is reason enough to shoot RAW if you aren't already. There is a complementary post that describes why it's not advisable to do this adjustment with the contrast and brightness slider.

4 comments on “How to Add Zap to Your Images”

  1. If you aren't shooting in RAW, you can get a similar effect using a Curves adjustment layer.

    Add a Curves layer, and then set a simple S-curve in the curves box. You can then dial the effect in using the oppacity slider for the layer. If you want more intensity, either make a more aggresive S-curve, or duplicate the layer.

    The good thing about using layers is that it is non-destructive and can be changed after it is applied.

  2. I don't shoot RAW because it slows down my workflow too much. I even shoot in mid-res, not the full because the extra information is marginal since we use bayer sensors, it's faster to move smaller files and 3 MPix is more than enough.

    Similarly, I don't use Photoshop (described in French as "usine à gaz"), but image viewers - ACDsee, Irfanview or whatever. For myself, XNview. The same thing can be done with gamma/luminosity/contrast controls. Even automatically: the software tries to expand the histogram.

    White Balance adjustments is fast, too. Remember: substracting a primary RGB color adds its opposite. Lowering the blue channel pops a cosy, yellow cast (red != Cyan and green != violet).

    Those operation can be done in a batch. You can save the original files apart, but I don't even care. If it have to be adjusted, it is better done once forever. We aren't making art and saving photos for the eternity, we're helping selling houses in the next months.

    See http://kenrockwell.com/nikon/d200/quality-settings.htm

  3. Regarding Raw...It does take longer but I feel comfortable using Raw...Setting for Nikon Indoor F8 4 speed 400 ...nice M
    Outside F16 250 200 M...It really works and gives a beautiful blue sky and clouds...

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