Enhance Colour Saturation in Photoshop

Digital RAW files can lack colour. Learn how to make them pop!

Enhance Colour Saturation in Photoshop - With the introduction and advancement of digital photography, many people who have "converted" over from traditional or slide film miss certain qualities that they had. One of the most prominent for many is the colours that you got from slide films such as Fujichrome Velvia. An absolutely stunning film for really vibrant colour saturation.

Now, whilst you can enhance colour saturation in Photoshop, it won't match exactly what you got from Velvia. However, it can come pretty close and add some real punch and colour to your digital images. You may have noticed that files directly from your Digital SLR may appear a little bland. Especially if shooting RAW, and that is where this process should help. Watch the video below or continue reading for the written tutorial.

Start by opening your image and go to:

IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - LEVELS

If the histogram has gaps at either base section, try this. Close them in by pulling the dark and light sliders inwards as in Fig.1. If there are no gaps, try pulling them in a bit anyway and see what happens. However, don’t overdo it. Note: Click for larger image.

IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - LEVELS

This should start to increase the contrast and saturation but there are a couple of more stages we can try to really saturate the colours.

Now go to:

SELECT - COLOUR RANGE - "Select" - HIGHLIGHTS (From the drop down box)

SELECT - COLOUR RANGE - "Select" - HIGHLIGHTS

Now select inverse so that you have just the dark areas highlighted. Then you need to feather the selection to blend your work seamlessly. If it is a relatively large image, try feathering about 15-20 pixels. Otherwise just experiment until you get it right.

Enhance Colour Saturation in Photoshop Feather

Now you can work on just the darker areas. Repeat step one, i.e. the dark and light sliders.

2 more steps and we are done, but you should already start to see some difference?

Go to:

 IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - CURVES

...and make some very minor alterations as in the image below.

IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - CURVES

The red circle shows a very small increase in lightness and the blue circle shows a small increase in the darkness. These 2 minor adjustments should add to and increase the contrast and now we can do the final stage.

Quite simple really, we just go to:

IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - HUE/SATURATION

And increase the center bar (saturation) by about 25 points or until it looks good.

IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - HUE/SATURATION

Alternatively, use the sponge tool set to saturate around 5%:

Enhance Colour Saturation in Photoshop

You should hopefully end up with a noticeable difference to both the contrast and saturation of your image as below.

Hover cursor to see before and after (if on a mobile device, tap inside and outside the photo):

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