How to add contrast to an image

I love that Photoshop offers us so many options to accomplish the same task.  Today let’s take a look at just one way we can quickly and easily increase contrast in an image by using a Channel Mixer layer.

Channel Mixer is available in Photoshop, but not Photoshop Elements. Next week we will look at a few different ways in which to increase contrast, including methods for Photoshop Elements users.

I took this photo at Yosemite National Park, on a foggy day.  I like the photo itself, but it’s pretty drab. Let’s give it a little more contrast.


  1. Create a new Channel Mixer adjustment layer by clicking on its icon in the Adjustments Panel (#1 in the screenshot below). If you have your Channels Panel open (#2 in the screenshot), you will see a Channel Mixer 1 Mask has been added.  You do not have to have your Channels Panel open for this to happen, but it will be there if you want to see it for any reason. Also, once you’ve clicked on the Channel Mixer icon, the Channel Mixer Properties box will open (#3 in the screenshot).
  2. Click on the down-pointing arrow in the Preset Box (#4 in the screenshot) to access the options available to you.


3. Choose the “Black & White with Red Filter.  Once you have done so,  your image will change to black and white.


4. Change the Channel Mixer 1 layer in your Layers Panel to Soft Light; adjust the Opacity of the layer to your liking.

The result is an image that more accurately reflects what I saw in person, which is a great contrast between the ground and the darker green tress, most notably.

Tutorial How to add contrast to an image

A side-by-side comparison:


This is a great method to use for a quick fix on any drab photos you might have, and I hope you find it useful.

If you would like to keep this tutorial on your computer for easy reference, you may download a PDF here: How to Increase Contrast in an Image.