Another Great Use of Gradient and Tint
First off, my example photo is horrid. It's what I get for having one finger on my shutter and the other hand on the wheel. I have photographer's ADD. Anyway.... fall is just around the corner and shutters will be going crazy over the beauty of a colorful maple.
Sometimes simply hiking up the contrast on a photo won't do. Then you try the "copy layer, change to overlay" method and that doesn't do it for you either (especially if it washes out your sky - turning blue to white). There are other tricks. Of course there are filters but I like teaching the manual way because sometimes a filter can't be used or just doesn't fit your project perfectly either.
In the original photo above I didn't need to pull out the blue hue using levels. The color was realistic, just without the pop. I also took it into a 3 hour drive through a bug-spattered windshield, so I did some cloning. Always do this kind of "repair" to a photo before you color edit. Color editing occasionally will make unseen flaws come out so keep that in mind too.
Now that you're happy with your photo and all it needs is color, we will tint! Experiment with black and white as well as earth tones in your photos. Black makes a more dramatic shading than brown does, sometimes too much or it's just wrong for the composition. Brown is subtle, warm and blends nicely. I gave you the color blocks of the two browns I use for my gradients in the image above. Since my photo had the same lighting from top to bottom I only used the brown in the top layer, setting layer mode to overlay and sliding the opacity until it was perfect. In some of my fall shots, the trees tend to be dark if they are turned away from the sun, so I'll use linear or bi-linear gradient to lighten and warm these colors. You might have to keep reapplying the gradient several times until it's to your taste, so have your layer in overlay from the beginning.
*NOTE: If you are using solid colors in your gradient you can just redo your gradient, you don't have to hit "undo" to delete what you just did. If you are using one color and a transparency, you'll have to use undo. Experiment and you'll see why.
**If you are unsure of where to find these buttons, check on my labels in this post to find other posts where I cover the same subject. One of them shows the layers box.