RAW files come out of the camera a little flat and lackluster. Adding a little bit of "punch" or "pop" to your photos is something that almost all RAW photos need. Here are the top 5 ways to get your images looking bright and lovely in a just a few clicks!
One of the easiest ways to add a little more life to your photo is to increase the contrast. Most RAW files have very low contrast so an increase in contrast is in order. The Contrast slider can be found in the Basic Panel just below the Exposure slider. In the example below, I increased the contrast to +48. The amount you choose will depend on your image.
Most RAW photos have low color saturation straight out of the camera, so a little boost to the Vibrance slider in Lightroom can liven up your image in one little click! The Vibrance Slider is also found in the Basic Panel near the bottom between Clarity and Saturation. In the image below, I bumped the Vibrance slider up to +49.
Setting your Black and White point is a carryover from Photoshop and it s sure way to give your image some more "pop." It requires an extra couple of slider moves from the other options I have shared, but is still simple.
First, hold down your alt key and move your Whites Slider to the right until you start to see some colors show up on your solid black image. Your regular image will come back as soon as you let up on the alt key. Now hold down the alt key and drag the Blacks slider to the left until you start to see colors appear on your white screen. Both the Blacks and Whites sliders are located in the Basic Panel's middle section below Highlights and Shadows.
In the image below, I move the Whites slider to the right +43 and the Blacks slider to the left -32. The amounts you choose will depend on your image!
A super simple way to add some nice punch and contrast to your images is by using the Tone Curve. Most people are afraid of making adjustments to the Tone Curve, but this trick won't having you touching the actual "curve" at all.
Just below the curve you should see the words "Point Curve". By default, the word Linear is selected. If you click on the word Linear you'll see some other options pop up. I like to change it to Medium Contrast or Strong Contrast to help quickly and easily increase the "punch" my photos have.
In the image below, I changed the setting to Strong Contrast.
Another way to add a little more interest and pop to your images is to use a couple of radial or graduated filters. The way you do this will depend on your image. I like to add a little bit of color and darkness to the background and possibly a little brightness to my subject. In this example I will use two radial filters.
Using the Radial Filter tool located above the Basic Panel (between the brush tool and graduated filter tool), I'll choose Colorful Background from the Graduated Filter Toolbox and draw a circle around my subject. Last, I make sure to UNCHECK the Invert Mask box at the bottom of the Radial Filter dialog box. I follow these same steps using the Basics Brighten preset also from the Graduated Filter Toolbox BUT this time I leave the Invert Mask box checked!
Put Them Together
Oftentimes, I will use a couple of these methods together to get just the right amount of punch/pop for my images. The more you play with them, the more you will find your favorite methods and understand how each affects your image. That will make choosing which methods to use much easier.