I've been reading a few blogs lately that have included tips on how to take great photos and also how to fake it or improve your pictures using photoshop or similar software. I took a bunch of photos on Friday night and have played with a couple of them to see what I can do.
Me at my sister's BBQ for her 20th Birthday, May 2008. This picture is straight out of camera, I did nothing but resize it. In the background there is a white wall off to one side and a yucca plant. You can also see part of the patio.
The same picture after I gave it the photoshop treatment and "cropped and popped it" Most of the background is cropped out making me the focus of the picture much more than before. I also applied sharpen more mask to bring out the detail and used a brightness/contrast layer to make the picture much more "punchy". Specifically I set it to darker but with an increased contrast and I played with the exact numbers until it looked "right".