When approaching editing this photo, it was clear that the contrast between the background and the cat’s chest were too similar in plane and the image was just too dark overall.
I used the Histogram function in Levels to bring to brighten the image overall- bringing in more white pixels and lightening grays.
I wanted to give the image a little more contrast. With “Curves” I was able to adjust the lightness/darkness to give the image a little more depth (lighten the blanket and parts of the cats body). It also gives more contrast around the cat eyes- which is more aesthetically pleasing to me.
After inspecting the photo with some adjust color levels in Channel Mixer/Pop adjustments, I was torn because I like the image without that pop/warmth/color that it was bringing in. I left the level there but off. I prefer to see the green eye pop than to brighten the colors throughout the whole photo. Doing so was taking away from the effect of the eye “popping”. I left the level in in case you would like to turn on that level and decide for yourself.
Dodge and Burn became pretty useful in giving the image a little more highlights on the blankets, couches, strawberry and bottle. The burn tool was good for creating shadows in the strawberry which was pretty blurry. So the strawberry, couch and tail became more sharp- enhancing the overall quality of the image