Top 5 quick Photoshop tools to improve your images

I was out on a winter’s day shoot up on Dartmoor the other day with a fantastic 1934 MG K3, one of only 33 cars made.Built for racing it features a straight six 1087cc supercharged engine and as I followed it to the location I realised why it was so successful at first in the Mille Miglia with Capt George Eyston ,in the Ulster TT with no less than Tazio Nuvolari at the wheel with an incredible average of 78mph and at Le Mans where a K3 finished in 4th place in 1934.

1934 MG K3
1934 MG K3 tracking at 1/60th second with 17-40mm at f8

It was an overcast freezing cold day and very windy but I needed the open country to offer clean reflections and as much light as was available to fill the British racing green body panels. We shot the statics in the top car park near Hay Tor which, unsurprisingly, was fairly empty at this time of year. On long lens I found I needed to up my shutter speed to 1//125th second and raise the ASA to 400 due to the buffeting by the wind, even using a tripod only 1 in 3 or my images was sharp .Upping the ASA isn’t a big problem on the Canon 5DSR as the 50 megapixel chip is so big that it remains sharp right up to over 1000ASA.

Cornering K3
Cornering -pan-K3 70-300 f5.6 1/125th second

On my return home I set about editing the images. In winter or in low light your hit rate, or successful outcomes reduces and I found that only 1 in 8 of my action images were sharp .In this situation I always shoot more frames knowing that I’ll need the extras to assure a good selection for the client. The statics too had suffered from the tricky weather on the long lens (Canon f4:5.6L EF 70-300mm) but again I’d made sure I took enough to have sharp options.

1934 MG K3-2
1934 MG K3-2 with post and people

On occasion I’d had to shoot angles that meant I couldn’t exclude posts and people in the background but knew I could take them out later in post production.

So here are my top 5 quick Photoshop tips for improving your images taken on a dull day.

  1. Boost the saturation by up to 15% to give a more natural look to the colour
  2. Tweak the levels using the histogram or curves to adjust the contrast
  3. If needed lighten dark areas of the car using the dodge tool set to mid tone
  4. If the sky is flat and featureless darken it using the burn tool set to highlight creating a gradient bottom to top…don’t overdo it
  5. Remove unwanted distractions, in the above image, the people and post, using the clone or healing tools magnifying for the detail
1934 MG K3-3
1934 MG K3-3