How to Pop A Part of Your Photo Using Photoshop

Racing in the Snow? This isn't right.

I’d like to share a technique I often use to pop a photo or part of a photo, all of these were done with the help of Photoshop. It’s available in versions of Photoshop CS3, CS4 and CS5, i think even in CS2. When you take a look at the photo above, you’ll probably notice that the blue car Dinoco, is sharper, more promient compare to the original photo below. The photo below is the original unedited raw image that I exported directly to flickr from my lightroom catalog, and the photo above was the final result of post processing done in CS5 and a plugin Topaz Adjust 4. But don’t worry, you can all do the same thing in photoshop  without the help of a plugin. This will be a two part post, in the first I will discuss how I did it using just photoshop cs5 and the second part is how I did it using photoshop cs5 and Topaz Adjust.

  1. Assuming you’re already inside Photoshop CS5, duplicate the background image.
  2. Next is to open and use the Smart Sharpen Filter tool on the duplicate later. Adjust the amount and radius slider until you reach the desired look that you need. Don’t over sharpen to make look as natural as possible.
  3. The image below show the sharpened layer, which might be ok depending what you’re trying to accomplish, in my case I only needed to sharpen or to give detail to the blue car Dinoco, the other part of the photo must remain the same. So in step four below we need to do some masking.
  4. If you are not familiar on creating a mask, please go here. What we need to do is to reveal the part of the part of the original photo underneath, in this case, I wanted to reveal most part of the photo except the sharpened Dinoco. This way I retain, the original bokeh and depth of field of the photo, and the two other vehicles remains smooth and blurry.
  5. In the image below, you’ll see on the lower right panel the part of the layer mask that has been erased to reveal part of the original photo on the bottom.  
  6. Last is to merge the two layers and save the image.

On the second part, I’ll discuss how I did it using the Photoshop CS5 and the Plugin Topaz Adjust 4.0

I hope you find this short tip helpful. If you have any questions, corrections or suggestions, I’ll be glad hear them, please don’t hesitate to post a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “How to Pop A Part of Your Photo Using Photoshop

  1. Mark Bernard

    So far I have been resistant to using Photoshop to alter images beyond slight color corrections or brightening to compensate for my clumsiness with the camera. I find myself facing a moral dilemma in this. If the shot is not seen exactly that way by the camera, is it right to make adjustments? If so, how far do you go before you become less of a photographer and more of a digital artist? I don’t know the answer to this, but it is an issue I have been wrestling with. I know most people do this to their art, but at a certain level it seems dishonest to me. On the other hand, with a program like Photoshop, you can make a pretty good photo of a not so good one (barring basics like composition and subject matter). Like I said, I am conflicted…