Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting color and tone in a sunset portrait, part of Photoshop CS4 for Photographers: Creative Color.
Have you ever had the experience where you are out taking pictures and the light is just so beautiful, and the colors are just so amazing. You can't wait to then get back and open up the photograph, and then when you open it up, the colors just aren't as good as they were when you were there. Just somehow didn't capture what you saw. That's the case with this particular photograph. Now, I love the composition of this. I love that it's shot right in the sunset, I love that it's a photo of my wife and my daughter Sophia there. Yet, the colors aren't good enough for me. How can we make these colors really come to life, how can we add a little bit of contrast? Well, that's what we are going to talk about in this movie. We are going to talk about how we can do that by using adjustment layers as well as a particular blend mode. This particular mode will really help us out with contrast and color. Then we will wrap this movie up by adding a little bit of tone to the photograph.
All right. Well, for starters what we are going to do is we are going to click on the Adjustment Layer icon for Color Balance. That will then create a Color Balance adjustment layer. Then we want to take this layer to a blend mode of Soft Light. So I will double-click the Adjustments tab to close that panel for a moment, so I can really focus-in on this layer. Now, I could of course choose from the pulldown menu, Soft Light. Yet, I want to be even faster. So in order to quickly select this blend mode of Soft Light, I need to make sure I have the Move tool selected. I do. Next step, on a Mac, Shift+Option+F, on a PC, Shift+Alt+F. Once again on a Mac, Shift+Option+F, on a PC, Shift+Alt+F. Definitely one of the shortcuts that's worth learning. All right, well now that I have that blend mode, let's go ahead and double-click Adjustments to open that up, and we want to add quite a bit of red here.
So we are not only adding some contrast, but we are adding these really nice warm tones. Here is our before and then after. Already so much better. This is much closer to my experience. This is much closer to how I saw this particular image in my mind. All right. Well, the next step is going to be to go back to our Adjustments panel and we are going to choose Hue/ Saturation. Then we are going to choose the option Colorize. Now, this Colorize option is actually pretty interesting, and it's going to become even more interesting when we change this to a blend mode of Soft Light. Do you remember the shortcut? Shift+Option+F on a Mac, Shift+Alt+F on a PC. Now, we want to just find the exact amount of red there and the saturation. Double-click the Adjustments tab, so that we could look at our before and then after. That just looks so much better. Again, it brings out these nice, deep, rich, tones.
Let's take a look at our overall before and after. Here is before, interesting image, here is after, so much more definition, so much more color, so much more visual intrigue. All right, well to finish this image off, I am going to zoom out, Command+Minus on a Mac, Ctrl+Minus on a PC. Next thing I am going to do is click on the Adjustment Layer icon and choose Curves. Now, here I am going to go ahead and darken this up. So I am going to click and drag this down. Now that I have that down, I will navigate to my Masks panel and click Invert. That will then mask away all that darkening effect. I will grab the Brush tool by pressing the B key, and make my brush small by pressing the Left Bracket key, Right Bracket makes it bigger, Left Bracket makes it smaller, or of course you can always choose a brush from here. We have no hardness, relatively small size brush there, great.
We are going to now paint with white. What I am looking to do is just to bring in a little bit of detail back up in here, and on the beach, just a touch. And I am going to lower my opacity somewhere right about 30%, just a little bit of darkening around here, just to connect those areas, just a touch. Now, let's look at our before and after. Here is before and then after, redirecting how the eye is looking at this photograph. We will zoom in a little bit, so you can see that. Here is our before and after. Now finally, to evaluate this photograph, we will press F to go to Full Screen View mode. Then we will press the F7 key to bring back our Layers palette.
Now, when you have all of your layers visible, if you hold down the Option key on a Mac, and Alt key on a PC, and click on the Eye icon, you can then just show that layer. So here is our before and after. Once again, before and then adding a little bit of color and tone, little bit more color and tone and then finally working on some of the brighter tones. At this juncture, we have really created some visually interesting and stunning color and tone. Just think it didn't take us a lot of time, yet the photograph is so much better.
- Bringing photos to life with curves and color balance
- Using subtle color to create impact
- Showing the effects of vibrance and hue
- Creating distinction with color, black-and-white, and sepia tones
- Adding imagination and personality to images
- Using color and blending modes to add style to photos