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Color eBook 1.0

Color eBook 1.0

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Published by Lilliana Quintana

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Published by: Lilliana Quintana on May 03, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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When we start to adjust individual colors we begin to really control

where the viewer’s eye is drawn to within the frame. Doing this without

an understanding can make your images confusing and frustrating to

look at. Knowledgeable adjustment of individual colors, however, can

refne the story, make it clearer and make the sense of mood stronger.

In many cases we can even fx certain color issues which were out of

control or not noticed during the shoot.

As I have kept saying, my approach to controlling color (post-processing

included) is based on the following questions: “Do all the colors play

a role in relation to the story and the mood I am trying to convey?

Does anything stand out that shouldn’t? Does anything less important

stand out more than something more important?”

Only when I can answer these questions can I create something that

will make sense to others. The basic formula is simple – everything that’s

important and noticeable remains the way it is or even gets accentuated

(made brighter, more vivid) to draw more attention. Every element that

isn’t important or of lesser importance is dimmed, partly de-saturated

or made darker, to be less visible.

Over the next few pages I’ve included real life examples, which show the

way color looked in the photographs before and after post-processing.

Let’s have a closer look at them now.



of individual
colors can refne
the story.


with my approach to color, I de-
saturated it and darkened it to be
even less visible.

4. The clothes near the ceiling can be
seen as an element which adds to the
story, the problem being that a part
of this element is pretty bright and it
guides the eye towards an area that
is too far away from where the key
elements to the story are. As a result
I darkened this area too.

5. The red cup is not so bright that it
absolutely screams for attention. It’s
just suffciently bright (and red ) to be
noticed, which was good in this case.
It’s that small, extra detail that adds
a little depth to the story and doesn’t
take away from the core of it and so I
kept the cup just as it was.

6. The windows are bright and
they obviously demand signifcant
attention, but I don’t fnd this a
problem here. They are a key part of
the story and they add to the mood –
they are “the brighter world outside”.
What’s also important to note is
the way they lead the eye along
an imaginary line – from the man’s
brightly lit face towards the back of
the room. This allows us to actually
get towards the mother-in-law, who
would be rather lost in the darkness
if it weren’t for the bright windows.

I wanted this photo to be about this
family, particularly the man, then his
wife and then about the mother-in-
law in the background. The mood was
a little melancholic and I think that
the darker colors communicated that
rather well.

I also wanted to say a bit about their
environment, as long as none of that
would take away from the people.

Besides giving the image an overall
“face-lift” and making all colors a
little more dramatic (by raising the
overall contrast), there were specifc
elements that needed attention, I’ve
numbered them and I’ve included my
thoughts for each number and the
corresponding action I took (or didn’t

1. I made the mistake of not moving
this white plastic bag out of the
scene. It really added nothing to what
I was trying to convey, so it doesn’t
need to draw any attention and it
would distract from what does matter.
I darkened it to a point where it
blends with the darkness of the room.

2. The striped bed-cover does say a
little about these people’s world, but
is it so important that it should be one
of the frst things noticed (it’s pretty
bright in the “before” image)?
The answer is “no”, thus I have
darkened it quite a bit too.

3. Here we’ve got a smaller object,
which is very visible, but again, it has
no role and as I am quite meticulous




1. This is probably the main area of
the story; the house and the sun-
kissed feld next to it really needed
to pop out to make the story more
obvious and louder. The feld was also
a good place to emphasize the magic
of golden morning light. I brightened
it and made it more vivid (saturated).
Contrast was then increased to make
everything within this part stand out.

2. I wanted to make the fog dramatic
and pronounced, so the whole area
was brightened (slightly) and contrast
was increased.

3. The sun was beautifully
illuminating the rolling hills, but this
just didn’t show in the untouched
image. I added a little saturation to
the yellows to emphasize the golden
light and increased the contrast to
make these parts pop out more.

At the end of the day I feel that these
actions have made a pretty good
photograph into a pretty powerful
one. With the adjustments the story
has become clearer and the mood has
been conveyed with more strength.

This photograph is about a house
in the countryside, standing amidst
rolling hills on a magical, exciting,
sunny, yet foggy morning.

You could say that the untouched
photo was fne as it was, there was
nothing “wrong” with it. There
weren’t any colors which were
distracting from the story or the feel
of the image. However, there was
nothing particularly standout about
the image either. The story was there,
but it wasn’t being told in a very
interesting manner. Also importantly,
the excitement of the bright, sunny
morning, the mystique and beauty of
the fog, in short, the awe-inspiring

beauty of nature that touched me
when I looked at the scene was not
really being conveyed.

What I did with this image is an
example of a different approach to
that on the previous page. Instead of
darkening and de-saturating specifc
colors to take attention from them,
the opposite was employed. I made
certain areas more vivid, bright and
“contrasty”, to bring more attention
to them and make them really pop
out of the frame.

Once again, here are the elements
that needed particular attention and
my thoughts behind the process.




The shot is primarily about the
gesture, the human relationship. One
could say that the peculiarly upturned
jar on the fence takes away attention
from the gesture too and while it
does to an extent, the proximity to
the gesture means that ultimately
it doesn’t take the eye far from
what’s most important. The pumpkin,
however, does. It’s right in the corner,
it jumps out immediately and it has
no obvious connection to the gesture
or the people. On top of that it
changes the more sombre mood a
little too. It just disrupts the whole
“rhythm” of the image.

After some of my own pondering on
whether I should or shouldn’t get rid
of something that was in the frame
after the shot was already taken,
I ended up using the “content aware
spot healing brush” in Photoshop CS
5 to make the pumpkin disappear.
A similar result could be achieved
with the “clone stamp” tool – it
would simply be a little more time

The fnal result is a “saved”
photograph, which wouldn’t work as
well if I left it as it was. The story and
the mood are now conveyed more

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