Two Simple Techniques to Enhance the Color in your Photographs

Software Required: Photoshop ( Gimp version coming soon 🙂 )

Difficulty Level: Moderate

In this post, I am going to show you two different ways to add a bit of color to your photographs. Remember that a perfectly shot photograph will rarely need any post-processing. However, the techniques illustrated here can be used to give a HDR-like effect to any photograph.

Original Image:

Sunset

Technique One:

This technique can be used if the number of major color components in a photograph is small (3 -4). Blue and Green are dominant in the picture I’ve chosen, so I’m only going to increase those components in the picture. You can extend it to other colors like reds etc.

Step 1.

Open the image in Photoshop. On the ‘Layers’ palette, the image is represented as ‘background’.

Step 2.

Make a copy of this layer by selecting the layer and clicking CTRL+J or you can use the menu bar, Layers-> duplicate layer. I have named this layer as ‘blues’. Now select the ‘blues’ layer and click CTRL+B or use Image-> Adjustments-> Color Balance. I have increased the amount of ‘blue’ in the image by dragging the slider toward Blue and have also decreased the amount of red by dragging the slider toward ‘Cyan’. The amount of change you need to do will depend on the image you are using. This how mine looks at the end of this step.

Step 3.

Now, hide the ‘blues’ layer by clicking the little eye to the left on layer panel. Duplicate the background layer again. I’ve named this as ‘greens’.

Now again open the color balance tool box for the ‘greens’ layer and increase the amount of green in it. You can also increase the amount of yellow in it too.

Step 4.

Now make the hidden ‘blues’ layer visible again by clicking the ‘eye’ icon again. Choose the Eraser tool from the tool box from the left. With similar setting shown the image (also reduce the opacity of the eraser brush to around 50% and flow to 50% ), erase the grassy area from the ‘blues’ layer to reveal the greener parts from the ‘greens’ layer underneath. Do this for any other part from the ‘greens’ layer you wish to reveal. You can erase the ‘blues’ layer repeatedly to reveal more from the layer underneath.

Step 5.

Thats it! Now, you need to do a little bit of tweaking to jazz up the photograph. Select all layers in the ‘Layers’ panel by holding CTRL and clicking on the layer thumbnails. Merge all the layer by clicking CTRL+E or Layer-> Merge Layers.

Next, lets adjust the amount of highlights and shadows of the image using the curves tool using CRTL+M or Image-> Adjustments-> Curves. Click on two points on the diagonal and drag the points as shown to make an ‘S’ shape with it. Again, the amount of adjustment you need to do will depend on the photograph chosen.

Done! You can do few more adjustments for other colors. The final image looks like this.

Technique Two:

This one is relatively simpler and also preserves the original colors in the photograph.

Step 1.

Make a duplicate layer of the background layer.   I have named it as ‘Lazy layer’.

Step 2.

Select the ‘lazy layer’ and click CTRL+I or Image-> Adjustments-> Invert to get the negative of the image.

Step 3.

With ‘lazy layer’ still selected, go to Layer->Layer styles-> Blending options and select the blending mode as ‘Overlay’.

Step 4.

Now, click  CTRL+U or Image-> Adjustments-> Hue/Saturation and increase the Hue to 180. You can also change the saturation and Lightness until you get the desired outcome.

Step 5.

One downside to this techniques is that it produces color artifacts. You can reduce these by lowering the opacity of the ‘lazy layer’. Or, you can use a soft eraser and clear out the affected parts.

The final image,

 

Links:

Photoshop Layers: http://livedocs.adobe.com/en_US/Photoshop/10.0/help.html?content=WSfd1234e1c4b69f30ea53e41001031ab64-77e9.html

Layer Blending Modes: http://livedocs.adobe.com/en_US/Photoshop/10.0/WSfd1234e1c4b69f30ea53e41001031ab64-77e9.html

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