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When it comes to working with color, sometimes we're interested in removing color or changing colors. Yet what about the situations where you want to enhance color, you want to make colors more vivid and interesting in your photographs? Well, with this photograph, we'll take a look at how we can do that by creating two distinct color adjustment layers and then two different curves adjustment layers. This is a photograph of a side of a building, which is located right next to one of my favorite beaches in the world. And I love the color pallet that we have, here, but what I want to do is make these colors really come alive.
So here, we'll begin by reaching for an adjustment layer which allows us to increase color variety in saturation, it's called Vibrance. Go ahead and click on that icon to create a Vibrance adjustment layer. Next, what we're going to do, here, is increase the vibrance. What this does is, it favors the weaker colors and brings those out, or brings those up. In other words, if there's a weaker color, it saturates that more. If there's a more saturated color, it doesn't do as much to that area. Saturation, on the other hand, well, that just, sort of, brings everything up.
And you can use these two in unison with each other to help make your colors come alive. Alright, well, for a first step, here, you can see, so far, so good. We have a little bit more life, there, in the photograph, and I want to go even further. So next, I'm going to reach for a tool, which isn't used that often, but which is phenomenal when it comes to improving color. It's called Selective Color. You can find the icon right here. Go ahead and click on that. What this allows us to do is to click into this pull-down menu and target different colors.
In this case, we'll start off with our reds. Now if we go into the reds, what we can do is change the characteristics of the reds, make those a little weaker, or we can make those a little bit stronger. See how I'm changing the overall color characteristics of these reds? Let me add some magenta, perhaps, so you can see that even a little bit better. We can have those a little bit more magenta, or a little bit more reddish and orange. And here, I'm just going to crank up these values. And you can see how we're already bringing out more of those colors, here, on the sun. Let me zoom in, perhaps a little bit better, so you can start to see the difference.
Next, I'm going into the yellows. In the yellows, we can really change the overall look of the type of the yellow that we have. Here, we'll use our sliders and you can mix this around a little bit. And if we wanted a really bright, you know, sunshine yellow, we can do that with a few simple adjustments, as you can see, that we're doing here. We're bringing in more of that yellow tone. Adding a little bit of magenta and also a touch a cyan, there. If I zoom out, perhaps you can see this better. The colors are, now, really starting to pop. And what's happening is, we have just made a few adjustments, and already, with these few adjustments, we went from this color pallet, which initially seemed so vibrant and saturated, and now, when we compare it to the after, it really wasn't.
Now, the colors are taking on a different look and feel. Well, to finish this project off, let's create two more adjustments. The first one is a curves adjustment. A great way to add color saturation and contrast is to create what's called an S curve. In the curves dialogue, if you just click in the upper area and drag up, that brightens up the brighter tones, and then click in the lower area and drag down. There are some people who say, well this is kind of too simple, it's too easy. Well, it's easy because it's doing something which is pretty good.
It brightens up the brighter tones, darkens the deeper tones, and what that does is it increases contrast, and also, color saturation. One more adjustment, another curves adjustment. And with this adjustment, what we're going to do is drag down, here. I want to have a little bit of a darker area, but I only want this to be in the lower area of the photograph. Well, to limit this to a certain area, we're going to use the Gradient tool. If you click on the Gradient tool in the tools panel and if you have white and black or, for that matter, black and white, in your color picker, here, it will create a gradient with those characteristics.
Next, what we can do, is click and drag over an area of the photograph. In doing that, you can see how we're, now, limiting the adjustment from this area. That's the exact opposite of what I want, so I'm going to click and drag from the bottom to the top. And then I'll go ahead and click and drag around and see where I might want to have this start and stop. You can see how we're adding a little more density to the lower area of the photograph. To exagerate, you can see how this is now primarily affecting that part of the image. Well, what we can do down there, is darken, but also bring back a little bit of brightness of the brighter tones, there, so its not muddied up.
And this just evens out the overall brightness in the picture. And when it comes to working with masks, sometimes what you'll want to do, is go into the Mask panel and decrease the density of that. That will allow this to affect other areas of the photograph, as well. If we decrease this all the way, it's as if our mask is completely white. As we increase it, you can see it's a shade of gray, gets darker and darker until it becomes black, which is concealing the adjustment in this area of the photograph. Or if we want a bigger transition area, we can increase the feather amount and that will just soften the transition from bright to dark, there.
Alright, well, it's tough to see with that dialogue in front of this, so let's take a look at what we've created. In a few simple steps, we've really made the color, here, come alive. We started by working with vibrance and saturation, and we brought both of those values up, which increased color variety and color saturation. Next, we used Selective Color to bring out the reds and the yellows and to make those pop a little bit more. And then it was that curves adjustment, which added saturation and contrast. And then one more, which evened things out a little bit.
So that we now have this overall before and then, here, our after.
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