Most people think of a curves adjustment layer as being used for contrast. And built-in, are several recipes that you can try out, both presets and auto methods that are worth looking at. Let me show you. Now, the same process you learned for fixing color contrast issues also works for general contrast issue. Just go to adjustment, and click on the curve adjustment. Now hold on the option or alt key, and click on the word auto. This is gonna bring up a new dialogue, and you’ll see some great choices here. One of the ones that I like is the Enhance Brightness and Contrast.

Improving contrast with Auto Curves from Photoshop: Advanced Adjustment Layer and Blend Modes by Richard Harrington

This goes through and creates a very custom curve, and really finds what’s needed to get a clean image with rich blacks and bright whites. Now, you can also try the Find Dark and Light Color option, and this isn’t quite as strong, but as you see here, it goes through and finds a pure black and a pure white. And so, that option is a bit more subtle, but what it does is, restores the black point and restores the white point, and ensures a nice clean contrast.

Now usually, this involves just subtle shifts to get the right overall change, and it can be pretty powerful, and an easy way to make adjustments. Now if we compare those, let’s open that back up there, and show you the brightness and contrast, you’ll see that that method tends to be more aggressive. So I would suggest that you take a look at these three. The Enhance Monochromatic Contrast is a simple way to apply a singular color correction, the Enhance Per Channel Contrast, you learned about earlier, to look at each channel independently, Find Dark and Light Colors is going to locate a black point and a white point, and Enhance Brightness and Contrast is going to be the most aggressive.

All of these have merit in a workflow, but I generally find myself using the Find Dark and Light Colors option, which is a simple way to find a clean black point and a clean white point without actually introducing excessive contrast or any potential color shifts within the image.