Layer blend modes are a powerful feature of image editing software. Here's a quick and easy way to fix a washed out picture using blend modes in any version of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. In fact, this technique will work in any other software that offers a soft light layer blend mode.
Time Required: 2 minutes
- Open the photo.
- Try the Auto Levels command first.
- If you like the results, you're done! If it's an improvement but the photo could still use a boost, move on to the next step. If it made it worse, use the undo command and move on to the next step.
- If the layer palette is not visible, display it by going to Window > Show Layers.
- Drag the background to the new layer button on the layer palette to duplicate it.
- Change the blend mode for the duplicate layer to Soft Light.
- If the results are too dark, lower the opacity of the layer.
- If the photo is still too light, drag the copy to the new layer button to duplicate it again. Adjust opacity as needed.
- If portions of the image become too dark, add a layer mask to the soft light layer and use the paint tools to hide or reveal the layer as needed. (see related information below for layer masks)