Colour grading – Natural light effect

This is a 4 step process to achieve a natural light, colour grading effect on your images.

  1. Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Take the saturation down. Not too much unless you’re looking for a really dramatic effect (which is fine for some studio portraits but not for a “natural” look). About -15 to -20 is a good range.
  2. Curves. We’re going to colour the image using the individual red, green & blue curves. Being subtle is the key here. Maybe bring out the red in the highlights & slight ‘S’ curves in the green & blue but it can vary according to ones individual opinion.
  3. Levels. On the blue channel draw in the triangular markers slightly to bring back some blue in the shadows & reduce it in the highlights to bring back some warmth.
  4. Colour fill layer. Add a new solid colour fill layer & choose a gold colour (eg. d0a702). Change the blend mode to “hard light” & bring the opacity down to about 8%.

As ever, the final step is to sharpen the image using whatever sharpening method you prefer (unsharp mask, adjust sharpness, high pass filter etc.) The above image displays the before & after photographs.

Week 24

Settings: Stock photo

Set up. Following a tutorial in “Photoshop Creative” issue 127

Opinion. I’ve come to realise that not only are many of the tutorials in this publication not possible on Photoshop Elements but even the ones which supposedly are or, have Element alternative procedures, are frequently not that simple to follow. I often find myself resorting to demonstrations on “You Tube” of how to obtain similar results. Fortunately I’m spoilt for choice more often than not, many with easy to understand explanations. So it was with this week’s project. However, as with previous attempts at following tutorials, a consequence of not getting it exactly right was I learnt new, cool effects.

For example, when adding the sparkles to the image I found if I added a layer with a mid to low opacity & then an additional layer with a higher degree of opacity on top, it created a more realistic effect as the sparkles appeared to now have depth. I also blurred the sparkles more on the lower layer (filter>blur>Gaussian blur) to help this effect.

The middle picture of the three shown here was the one I was initially attempting. However, I thought it looked quite good in black & white. I also discovered the image on the right by messing around with the “hue” slider while trying to boost the colours on the original picture. In the end there was nothing left for it but to create a triptych.