a few weeks ago my girlfriend shot about 300 pictures of an event (personal collection) and asked me to improve colors and such with Photoshop. When I returned all the photos she told me many pictures decreased in sharpness and said the pictures weren't better, although the colors were improved.
For the record, I've used a combination of
color balance. Not always together and especially not in that order. I mostly use
levels to increase brightness, but easily add shadows/black to areas that require them.
I do not work on multiple layers, just the default layer.
Now we went on holiday and I've got a bunch of new pictures. I don't want to spoil them, so I would like some advice on 'beautifying' pictures, without decreasing sharpness and such.
What I'm exactly looking at is what's the best practice for increasing brightness and make colors (a bit) more vibrant, as I think the contrast is a bit too low, often. This, as these are the most important issues, if you ask me.
I do want to note: I do not need the perfect picture, just a better, good picture. I don't want to spend more than a few hours on those new 500 pictures, so 48 actions including multiple layers and masks is probably overdone, unless it's quickly achievable. Time vs quality..
What I'm actually looking
I worked on my secondary Dell monitor, but will work on my Macbook scree because of better color accuracy.
Before-after samples of the past edit