There may be times when you're working with your photographs when you'll come up with an idea that's a little bit more of a photo illustration, where you really want to push color one way or another. Well let's take a look at how we can start to do that, whether we're working say with sunrise or sunset. Well, here I have this photograph of all of these bats flying off at sunset, and I really like the way this looks. But what I want to do is I want to change the overall color and tone to something perhaps a little bit more golden, and almost surreal, in the sense of how the colors work.
Well one of the nice places to start in regards to working with sunsets or sunrises, is Color Balance. So let's click on the Color Balance icon here in the Adjustments panel. One of the things that we can do with Color Balance is target Shadows, Highlights, and Midtones. Let's start off with our Shadows. What I'm going to do here is I just want to start to add a little bit of Hue in those shadows. I'll go to my midtones. I'm going to bring up my Reds and also my Yellows, and then I'll go to the Highlights. I'm going to bring even more color here in the Highlights.
Well this is starting to take shape, and it's a pretty good start; yet, I want to take this even further. I want it to have a little bit more of a natural look. It feels a little bit muted. Well how can I enhance this? Well, one technique that we can use is to use a Curves Adjustment on top of Color Balance. Let me show you what I mean. We'll click on the Adjustment layer icon, and then choose Curves, or we could open this up from the Adjustments panel, either way. Well, once we have Curves open, I'm going to start off by making a little bit of an S curve.
That S curve is going to give me some nice contrast. I make this by setting a point up top, clicking up a little bit, setting a point down near the bottom, clicking down. Next, I'm going to go to my different channels. The Red channel, I am going to really bring up some nice red there. Green Magenta, I'm going to bring in some Magenta, and then on top of all of this, in that Blue-Yellow channel, I'm going to go ahead and bring in quite a bit of yellow to give me that really nice, golden, and dramatic, and for that matter almost cinematic, look.
Well, let's take a look at our layers to see how this particular color effect was built up. If we go ahead and click off the Eye icon on the Curves layer, here is our before and then after. One of the things that's interesting about this is that when we turn off the Curves layer, and we go back to this, this just looks like it's not even really anything; yet, when we turn off the visibility of Color Balance again, we then see that Curves actually did push this image pretty far. How we came up with this really dramatic color was to kind of have a vision for it from the get-go, and then begin to push the color one way and start to really work it out, and then take it even further.
A lot of times, when working with color, you have to have that persistence, that endurance, that patience to kind of see an image through. You have to keep in mind that working on photographs really is an art, and a craft, and if you have that vision, many times you can come up with some really stunning results.
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