Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding color without increasing contrast, part of Photoshop CS5: Creative Effects.
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In this action photo of Travis Brown, one of the best mountain bikers in the world, I want to capture some energy. I wanted the image to be vibrant and alive. And while I like the effect here, because I was using a slow shutter speed and panning. I want more color. So with this photograph, we are going to examine how we can use some color adjustments in order to bring out some of the tone, even when we have a high level of contrast like we have here. Well, for starters we are going to go ahead and click on the Adjustment layer icon, which allows us to increase the Vibrance amount.
Let's click on that icon and then simply increase the Vibrance. What this will do is it will bring out some of the colors that we may not have noticed, like the blues here, and some of these darker tones and already the image is looking a little better. Next, we will employ one of the techniques we've used previously, which is to click on our Adjustment layer icon and then to choose Curves. Then to change the blending mode, say to Soft Light or Overlay. Now, when we do that, it gives us this great contrast and color saturation. if I exaggerate this by going to Overlay, we can see how those colors are really vibrant and alive.
Yeah, there is an issue, right? The image has become too dense, the blacks are too black. They become mucked up. So this isn't going to work for us. Well fortunately for us there is a great work around and here is what it is. What you can do is apply a particular blending mode say Overlay or Soft Light for that matter. Then merge everything to the topmost layer. To do that, we can use a shortcut. On a Mac, it's Shift+Option+Cmd+E, on Windows Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E. So now here if we turn off these underlying layers, we don't necessarily need those because all of these adjustments are merged to the top.
Let's name this layer Merged. Well, here at this juncture, what we have is the ability to apply another blending mode. One of the blending modes we might want to try is Color. If we go down to Color, what this is going to do is use these vibrant colors that we created with this blending mode down here. We now have lost that contrast. Here is our before and then now our after. If I zoom-in a little bit, perhaps you can see this even better on the helmet, the shirt, and the background.
Here is before, and then after. If we want a bit more, we'll click on that Vibrance control there, and we can even add a little bit more interesting color. The great thing about this is that what we did without really knowing it is we applied two blending modes together. Our first blending mode was Soft Light, we then merged to top, which essentially then removes any blending modes. Next, we used this Color blending mode to push this even further. So this is a great technique especially when you have images like this where you have a lot of contrast.
But where somehow, you want to bring out some of these interesting colors. Let's take a look at our before and after. Here we have it before - this feels a little bit pale - and then after. That has some really nice vibrance and color saturation that makes the image come to life.
- Adding light and drama
- Enhancing color and tone
- Applying graffiti and reflections to surfaces
- Using lens blur and focus to enhance portraits
- Masking multiple images and adding elements
- Combining images with multiple depths of field
- Using layers masks and blending with HDR toning
- Applying border and edge effects
- Adding a sense of motion
- Understanding vanishing point perspective
- Using Photoshop plug-ins