Photoshop Micro Contrast Plugin

Micro Contrast Photoshop Plugin

We have all heard the term “Contrast” which is the difference between darkest and lightest values when looking at a a black and white photograph.

The term “Micro Contrast”on the other hand is contrast in the smaller details which are apparent in the middle tonal values of the image.

With black and white film, we can usually see this micro contrast more when we develop with a weaker developer and longer development times, something like diluting Kodak D76 at 1+3 is a typical example.

With digital, it’s not that easy to see the micro contrast so we need to give it a helping hand to try and tease it out if at all possible.

I have seen people trying to achieve this by using curves and software clarity sliders but more often than not, all they end up doing is introducing artefacts (halos) because the effect can be too aggressive.

The best way I have found is by using the method I use in the Micro Contrast Photoshop Plugin.

Enhancing Micro Contrast to me should not be done in the deep shadows or bright highlight areas and the plugin takes care of this by excluding these areas.

The image below is a straight scan from some black and white film, nothing fancy with no adjustments made.

By moving the slider slowly back and fourth, you can see the subtle effect of enhancing the micro-contrast using the Photoshop Micro Contrast Plugin.

Before After

The following is a cropped area of the above image which again demonstrates the effects of enhancing the micro-contrast by moving the slider slowly back and fourth.

Before After

One has to remember that not every photograph warrants micro contrast enhancement, for example, photographs of a portraits skin up close may not benefit from these types of enhancements.

Adding to much micro contrast can have the opposite effect by destroying the overall look and feel and it’s important to remember this.

The Photoshop Micro Contrast plugin has been designed to allow the effect only the once to try and persuade the artist from over doing it.

Requirements

  • Photoshop version 23.0 and above
  • Mac or Windows operating system

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