How to make your Subject Pop More in Photoshop.

Today's going to be a quick one - How can we make our subject pop a little more in photoshop?

I mean there's 100's if not 1000's of ways, but here's a quick layer change that is super easy to do and it works wonders.

Here's an example :

High-Pass Tutorial - Before
High Pass tutorial - After

fig.1 / Before fig.2/ After

If any of you are wondering what this shoot was for, the subject in the photo is a friend of mine, and asked me to shoot some moody portraits in that style so he could get one printed, sign it, and give it to his girlfriend as a Christmas gift.


He's also enthusiastically suggested the idea of doing a naked calendar, which up until then I thought he was joking...

In any case, lets have a look to see how I enhanced these pictures in 2 very quick & easy steps!

(Disclaimer : I was taught this technique by a friend of mine who did a lot of sports photography, and said it worked a treat. We find that this really shines in portraits and sports when used in the right circumstance.)

High-Pass Tutorial, Step.1

We have a our layer in photoshop - I've just used one of my already edited images just to show you it's not integral to the editing process, nor does it destruct the colours you've already applied in the image.

All you need to do, is duplicate the layer (CMD / Ctrl + J) - select it and head over to the filters, choose 'other' and high pass.

You'll get this grey square adjustment box come up. High pass effectively outlines the sharper edges from the in focus areas of your image. You can adjust this so it bleeds into everything, but I've found keeping it subtle impacts the image a lot more and it looks a little less manufactured. You can do this to taste, but I wouldn't push it too much.

Hit OK and marvel at the new grey mess you've just created on the page, now go on over to your blending modes and select overlay.


That's literally it, the refined areas now appear much sharper and stand out in the image a lot more. If you're happy with the selection you made but feel as though it's too much, then you can tone it down the opacity.

And that's it, nothing major! Of course this can be used more technically - you could add a layer mask and paint out areas you don't want effected, or if you're working with dozens of elements, you could choose a layer to pop out a little more. I've never found myself going crazy with it though.

And that's it!

If you want to check out some of the stuff I've likely used this technique in, head on over to my Instagram :


Thanks for reading, and happy shooting!

#photography #tutorial #lesson #tips #portrait