I stumbled across this technique by accident while playing with Gradient Maps a while ago. It’s a simple way to add an attractive, non-uniform tint.
Click the icon to download the action. If you want to know what the action does, then read on.
How it works
Start off with the basic image
Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer
Choose the “Copper” gradient, which should be in the default set
Make sure you tick “Reverse” and “Dither”
Set the adjustment layer blend mode to “Soft Light”
That’s it! It results in a nice, slightly vintage look, which is subtle enough to not need any further adjusting, most of the time. Obviously it’s not suitable for every photo – it warms the colours, so if the photo is already quite warm (for example, an indoors photo, with no flash), then it will likely ruin the picture.
I have the action set to one of the function keys (F6), so I can quickly press that to see how the photo looks with the slight vintage colours.
Before looking at some more before and after shots, I suggest experimenting with Gradient Maps yourself. Load some of the other gradients that come with Photoshop and scroll through them with the arrow keys. The image should update in real-time so you can see how the different gradients look on the photo.