Calvin Hollywood’s “Freaky Detail”

A German photographer by the very cool name of Calvin Hollywood some time ago devised a Photoshop post-processing technique called “Freaky Detail”. Hollywood’s technique intensifies local contrast and brings out details. It is very handy when applied to subject matter such as rock shelves, timber jetties, or any other weathered, texture-laden surface whose details you wish to enhance. Here is how to apply it:

  1. Stamp visible all layers (Opt-Cmnd-Shift-E) and rename the new layer to “Merged”.
  2. Duplicate the “Merged” layer (Cmnd-J) and rename the layer to “Freaky Detail Processing”.
  3. Change the blend mode of the “Freaky Detail Processing” layer to vivid light.
  4. Invert the “Freaky Detail Processing” layer (Cmnd-I).
  5. Apply surface blur (Filter -> Blur -> Surface Blur -> 40/40) to the “Freaky Detail Processing” layer.
  6. Stamp visible all layers (Opt-Cmnd-Shift-E) and rename the new layer to “Merged with Freaky Detail”.
  7. Change the blend mode of the “Merged with Freaky Detail” layer to soft light.
  8. Turn off visibility of initial “Freaky Detail Processing” layer.
  9. Add a layer mask to the “Merged with Freaky Detail” layer, invert the mask (Cmnd-I) and brush in the effect.

The above keystrokes are Mac-centric. If you use a Windows machine, substitute Opt with Alt, and Cmnd with Ctrl. To save a lot of time, I created a Photoshop action to automate the process. Feel free to download my Freaky Detail Photoshop action.


5 thoughts on “Calvin Hollywood’s “Freaky Detail”

  1. Malcolm Katon

    I use a variation of the freaky detail sometimes and instead of using soft light as the blending mode I use overlay.

    We haven’t been introduced yet, but I have been on a few of the Northern Beaches group shoots lately and will be going this Saturday to Coledale.


  2. Florian

    Thanks for this. Calvin Hollywood does some incredible post-processing. I really like your beach shots by the way. Have you noticed this technique introducing some colour artefacts in your shots though? Thanks


  3. Pingback: Overcoming the Challenge of Depth of Field in Macro Photography | Xenedis Phoblography

  4. Jeremy Ryan

    I’ve found that an addition of a B&W adjustment layer on top of the “Merged with Freaky Detail” can zero out any colour shifts. I had one test image that consistently got blue patches throughout, this fixed that



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