On this basic video Colin Smith from PhotoshopCAFE looks at ways to very quickly with just a few slider movements improve the look of an image.
Smith is working on this video on a landscape image. Starts with some work on the white balance. After this is set he goes to tackle the contrast – adding contrast (in a right way) can give punch to the image. Now instead of adding contrast (just by dragging the contrast slider to the right), Smith goes for a separate contrast change for the blacks and the whites.
At this point Smith has a nice tip – by playing with the whites and blacks sliders and holding the ALT/option key – this shows you the areas of the image which are clipping when you do this – very helpful – so use this slider and just be careful not to clip anything you don’t want to.
Next Smith looks at using the clarity (which is not that good for people but for landscape and even products it can actually look pretty good – just don’t over do it). After you have done all of that you can try and increase or decrease the exposure of the entire image and again you can use the trick with the ALT/option key to find out if you are clipping anything.