This is a very simple method for getting great looking photos in seconds with photoshop using a blending mode called "overlay". Below you will see the before and after pictures. Alright, let's get started.
NOTE: If you already know your way around photoshop this is a simple method:
duplicate your image layer
set the new layer's blending mode to overlay
play around with the opacity.
Step 1: Open 'Er Up
The first thing to notice is the pull-down menus. There are many blend mode options (picture 3). We are going to use overlay. If you want a run down on all of the options check out:
Then we have two spaces to enter a value for opacity (0-100) and fill (0-100). Changing the opacity changes the amount we can see of the layers below.
Step 2: Duplicate Your Image
On a PC hit CTRL+J or APPLE + J on a mac.
Alternatively you can use the menu: LAYER>DUPLICATE LAYER
Step 3: Overlay Magic
Some times this is too much of a contrast increase. In this case you can change the layer opacity to a lower value, lessening the effect. I like to use 60% for a lot of my photos. I find this gives you good contrast and richer looking colors.
Some people like to blur their overlay layers (FILTER>BLUR>GUASSIAN BLUR--play with the radius). This is another way of lessening the effect but I don't really like it, it seems to over-soften images.
Repeat and enjoy.
Step 4: Taking It to the Next Level
softboxes (diffuse light):
and some on building a full studio set up: