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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Making Summer Color

In a season dominated by green, you can help the natural landscape with your camera, filters and the delicate use of Photoshop tools

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Making Summer Cooler
Young monks and stupas, Myanmar. A polarizing filter deepened the blue sky and created higher contrast that visually helped pop out the white stupas. In Photoshop, Benson took a bit of an unwanted green cast out of the highlights. Keeping neutral tones like white, gray and black clean of colorcasts helps punch the true colors in a scene. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm at 16mm, ISO 200
The best thing about working digitally with color is the ability to selectively isolate any hue or tonal value. I often use Color Range in Photoshop (Select > Color Range) to select only the Highlights or Shadows in an image and then neutralize any color bias. Often, by keeping the whites, grays and blacks neutral, the areas of true color will pop more vibrantly. For example, a blue sky will have a more brilliant blue if the clouds are neutral. If the clouds have a colorcast to them—blue or cyan, for example—the entire image will have a colorcast and the sky’s blue will be visually less intense. This also is true for shadows or areas of a scene that should be gray. Keep the neutral areas clean of colorcast, and all the true areas of color will appear stronger.

There are times when a colorcast is desired, however—an overall wash of orange at sunset or shades of blue at dusk and twilight, for example. Once you understand how color affects the scene, the viewer and the colors around it, you’re free to take advantage of those effects for creative purposes.

Less Color
There are many times when color gets in the way and desaturating or completely eliminating hue yields a stronger image than a color version of the scene. Again, digital has a working advantage here. In Photoshop’s Preferences, uncheck the Color Channels in Color box under Display and Cursors. Each RGB channel now will display in black-and-white, as if the scene was shot on black-and-white film through a red, green or blue filter. Toggle through them to see how different the image looks in each version. There are many creative ways to blend the preferred effect from each channel to create an image that looks very different from the color version or any single channel. I like to copy each channel onto a separate layer and then use a black or white paintbrush on layer masks to blend them together. Taking the leaves selectively from the green channel, the sky from the red channel and shadows from the blue channel all blended together can generate a look similar to black-and-white infrared. The look can be dramatic.

Making Summer Cooler
One of the easiest ways to boost the definition and color in your summer images is to use a UV filter. The Heliopan Digital filter blocks UV and IR rays to give you better reds and greens, improved separation between colors and overall cleaner colors. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., www.hpmarketingcorp.com

A longtime contributor to Outdoor Photographer, Daryl Benson is the author of many books and his work has appeared in many calendars. See more of his photography at www.darylbenson.com.


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