In order to set the color and contrast in my photos, I like to play with the settings in Curves (go to the Image menu, under Adjustment is Curves). Or simply press Command+M, naturally, PC users will press Ctrl+M. Usually I will select one of the already defined settings such as Increase Contrast. However, thanks to Scott Kelby, I have learned a really good technique…and I love it! There are a few steps to follow to fix the color and adjust the contrast; all in about 30 seconds or so.
Step 1: Open the photo you’d like to fix and bring the Curves window up. The first eyedropper you see underlined is Blacks-select it and click on the darkest spot of your photo. In my photo shown below, the darkest spot is marked red and labeled Black. You will see colors changing immediately. And yes, you can play with it.
Step 2: Select the white eyedropper (the third one underlined red) and click on the brightest spot in your photo. As you can see, I clicked on the one in the middle labeled white:
Step 3: Select the middle eyedropper and find a spot that is supposed to be a neutral gray area. Don’t worry if you cannot see any gray areas. Sometimes it may be hard to find the true gray areas, so simply click on an area that’s closest to gray. As you can see above (labeled gray), I decided my gray is right there – even though it may not look pure gray. The closer to gray you get, the better the results.
Can you tell the difference? Well, now that we have set the color, let’s fix the contrast as well. While you still have the middle eyedropper selected, click on the middle of the Curves grid to add the point. Click above and to the right of center along the gray line where lines intersect as seen in the image bellow. Now, click down and to the left where the line intersects at the bottom. The lowest circle here is showing results of next step, so please, click right there where lines intersect.
The next step would after you have clicked on the bottom intersection, use the down arrow key on your keyboard to move that point on the curve. Press the down arrow key 10-12 times. Now, click back on the upper right point and press up arrow key 10 -12 times. Can you tell your contrast is increased and the overall photo looks much better?