Adding Style & Texture to These Leather Shoes Using Adobe Photoshop

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I shot this picture just while standing at a red light on a street corner. I thought nothing of it, but with just a few adjustments I was able to make it into a really interesting picture that really shows off the texture of my old leather shoes.

Before / After:

1- Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I made adjustments to the contrast and clarity of the picture in Lightroom before importing it in Photoshop:

  • I increased the Contrast to +60.
  • To add even more contrast in the mid-tones, I increased the Clarity setting to the maximal value of +100.
  • Now that the image is ready for final edits in Photoshop. Right-click on the photo thumbnail at the bottom of Lightroom and select Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop.

2- Even more contrast + slight blue tint

I used a Curves adjustment layer to add even more interesting contrast to this shot and to bring a little bit of blue in the shadows:

  • Create a Curves adjustment layer.
  • In the RGB channel, bring the dark point slightly to the right and the white point slightly to the left. Here’s how the curve looks like:

The RGB curve for added contrast

  • Now, in the same Curves adjustment layer, but this time in the Blue channel, bring the dark point straight up slightly and the light point straight down slightly. This adds a little bit of blue in the shadows and brings back a little bit of yellow/orange in the highlights. Here’s how the curve looks like:

The blue curve for the blue tint in the shadows

  • I wanted double of that effect, so I duplicated the layer Cmd+J Ctrl+J, and left the copy at an opacity 100%.

3- Darken everything

I then realized that the image could look even more interesting by being just a touch darker overall:

  • Create another Curves adjustment layer.
  • Staying in RGB mode for the curve, bring the middle of the curve slightly downward to darken the whole image ever so slightly.

4- Darkening the sidewalk around the shoes

Now I used another Curves adjustment to just darken the sidewalk:

  • Create yet another Curves adjustment layer.
  • In the RBG channel, bring the dark point that’s in the bottom left corner slightly to the right.
  • Now click on the layer mask associated with that Curves layer and hit Cmd+I Ctrl+I to invert the colors and effectively make the mask hide the whole effect.
  • Using a Soft White Brush B, paint the sidewalk around the shoes to reveal the effect of the adjustment layer on the sidewalk part of the picture.
  • You might be able to see where the effect starts and stops too easily, in which case you’ll want to add a Gaussian Blur filter effect to the whole layer mask.
  • Now once again I wanted double of that darkening effect, so I duplicated the layer Cmd+J Ctrl+J.

Et voilà! The stylish leather shoes have been rendered justice with just a few tweaks.

🌄 Image info:

  • Camera: Nikon D80
  • Focal length: 60mm
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s
  • Aperture: f/7.1
  • ISO: 1250

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