Here is a tutorial I've been working on for anyone that is new to photo editing. I wanted to show you two very easy ways to dramatically enhance the colours, contrast and light balance in your photos. I work in Photoshop, but I think that the methods I show would be fairly similar in other photo editing software.
So, if you look at the image above, you can see how much you can improve photos that come out a bit dull and dark, but this is also a great way to make good shots stand out even more!
I am going to use this photo to show you the technique.
The first thing I always do with a new photo is to adjust the Levels. You can find the levels under Image/Adjustments/Levels, or press ctrl+L, or apple+L on macs.
When you have opened the Levels window you'll see this black "mountain". Drag the little black marker and the little white marker so that they are right at the start and the end of the "mountain". Like this:
Click OK. Now you have adjusted the light/dark balance and contrast of the photo!
Now we are going to enhance the contrast further and make the colours really pop. This will be done in the Layers panel, it's usually situated at the bottom right corner of your screen, if not go to Windows/Layers.
Now you're gonna copy the Background layer, do that by grabbing hold of it and dragging it to the "Create a new layer" icon (bottom right of your layers panel).
When you have your new layer, click on the menu where it says "Normal" and change it to "Screen".
Copy another layer by doing the same thing - drag the Background layer to the same icon again - and change this one to "Soft Light".
Now adjust the opacity of your two layers. I usually set the Screen one to about 30% and the Soft Light to 80%. But this is up to you to decide when the photo looks best. Sometimes if a photo is very dark I put the Screen layer's opacity up.
Lastly, merge all the layers by going to Layers/Flatten Image.
Below you can see the photo before and after editing.
Here are some other before and afters using these techniques:
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!