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This is a great blog site that explains step by step various tips that can be used in editing pictures in sublet ways that will lead to a large impact. The blogger explains how the uses of the brightness/contrast tools can be beneficial. Also playing around with the opacity, saturation and adding various layers can add a softness and vivid look.
Editing photos with Curves: Blogger\Photographer says: I don’t know about you, but if I could only use one tool in photoshop for the rest of my life, it would be Curves. It can do so much! Not only can it lighten up your images, but it can make your colors and contrast pop by making an S curve. To do that, just add a second point in the curves window, and drag it down a bit. This is pictured here.