Its easy to open and image and start manipulating the image. However, anytime you do anything to the image directly you are altering the pixels. It is better to add Layers and make your adjustments to those layers so that you dont damage the original on accident.
Burning and dodging with a Neutral Overlay Layer.
Here is an image of Yoda that is not white balanced and is very flat, it lacks contrast.
The first thing we are going to do is add a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring back some of that contrast back in
In your Layer Window, click on the circle that is Half White Half Black and add a Curves Adjustment Layer.
By clicking and adding a point to the middle of the line you will lighten all the tones of the image. The image now looks over exposed.
If you move that point down you will now darken all the towns. The Image looks like its underexposed.
If you add another anchor point, you create an S-curve. The S-curve below makes the light tones darker and the dark tones lighter, lowering the contrast. If we had an image that had too much contrast we would want to use this kind of curve, however our image lacks contrast.
To add contrast to the image we need to make our dark tones darker and our light tones lighter.
The S-curve below does just that.
Because I did not White Balance the image, the image has an overall dingy yellow tone to it. We will now adjust the RGB curves to get truer colors.
If you remember from additive color theory, RED and GREEN make Yellow and this immage has too much Yellow.
I added another Curves Adjustment Layer, just so that I can see the changes that I am doing to just the colors I made the Red channel lighter, but only in the highlights. I did this by adding an anchor point in the middle and a second one to the top of the curve and pushing it up.
I also did the same to the Green Channel
And I pumped up the Blue just a bit.
This produces pretty good colors, but it’s still off, its still a bit yellow.
Finally add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer to change the overall tone of the image. As you can see, the Color Balance settings has Cyan, Magenta and Yellow on the left and Red, Green Blue on the right. Yellow is across from Blue, since we want to take away the dingy yellow tone, Start with the Highlights and add more Blue, taking away Yellow
Do the same for the Midtones
and the Shadows.
For now we are done, this is a pretty decent color correction. If you want to save the layer you have to save it as a Photoshop document extension PSD
Go to File/Save As and make sure to save it as a PSD file. If you want to put it online save it again but change the format to jpg, or bmp, or gig.
Save it as a jpg, we will add some filters to it and begin to play around in photoshop.
Below are all the iterations the image went through until the final one.