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A Colourful World

It’s A Colourful World

Colour is one of the most important aspects of my photography, regardless of what genre I am shooting.

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I love using colour; the way that it can both hinder and help you to get across the deeper meanings within your images, whilst also being full of ambiguity is such an exciting prospect.

I hardly ever shoot an image purely in black and white, and even the ones that are have been converted after the fact. I am not the biggest fan of black and white imagery but I do have a few plans to shoot some of my own images, maybe even a series, using black and white.

Finding the right balance of colour within an image, is for me at least, an enjoyable yet extremely organic process. Most often than not, I do not determine the final outlook of a ‘completed ‘ image, it is decided with 1-4 hours of editing and around 30+ layers.

Take my two images, The Eleventh Day and These Days:

Comparision

When placed side by side, they are quite similar in terms of colour but if you look at the layers in both images, you will see that they vastly differ. For The Eleventh Day, there are over 3 times more layers than These Days.

The Eleventh day Layers 1

 

The Eleventh Day Layers 2

 

These Days Layers

I use a lot of curves layers (set to luminosity so that only the colour is affected) as well as solid colour layers (often set to colour blending mode) as this decreases the chance of colour banding, which is a nightmare.

So, as you can see, I never take color grading my images lightly particularly as I think that colour is one way to heighten the appeal of images as being otherworldly, not matter how much they are rooted in reality.

In fact, I say colour grading because the main influences for my photography stem from cinematography.

I’ve always wanted my work to be cinematic, so I thought that there would be no better way to do this then to look at and study cinematography, which if rife with interesting colour combinations.

Here are a few of my favourite film stills to give you an idea of the kind of colour schemes I look at:

 

Melancholia

Melancholy
Director: Lars Von Trier

 

Inside Llwyn DavisInside Llweyln Davis
Director: The Coen Brothers

RideRide (Lana Del Rey)
Director: Anthony Mendler

Road To PerditonThe Road to Perdition:
Director: Sam Mendes

ShameShame
Director: Steve McQueen

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson

What colours do you use in your work?

What is your favourite colour to photograph and why?

The Eleventh Day: The Editing Process

When I shot this image, I wanted to create this story about a character that was trapped, his past behind him and his future in front of him. I wanted the image to be that in-between moment of indecision. Should he go back to the house and stay there or should he venture out into to the unknown where it could be dangerous or potentially harmful? I called the image The Eleventh Day because I wanted to insinuate that the character has taken a long time to consider what they are going to do and they have left it to the Eleventh Day to decide.

In terms of editing, I looked at a lot of film stills to give me an idea of cinematic grading. I had a specific colour palette in mind- blues and greens- and I stuck with it but I added a few colours that I hadn’t intended to. What I like most about my post processing is that it is such an organic process. I start out with an idea of which colours I would like to use and a general idea of what I want the end image to look like, but I’m extremely open when it comes to editing my images. Sometimes the end result is completely different to what I had anticipated.

Here is my editing process for my image, The Eleventh Day. As you can see, I use a lot of curve adjustment layers, solid colour layers and a few textures. The stormy sky was added right at the end on a whim. I’d never planned to put it there but I felt that the image needed a bit more drama and I like to think that the storminess of the sky reflects the character’s clouded mind.

 

The Eleventh Day: The Editing Process

When I shot this image, I wanted to create this story about a character that was trapped, his past behind him and his future in front of him. I wanted the image to be that in-between moment of indecision. Should he go back to the house and stay there or should he venture out into to the unknown where it could be dangerous or potentially harmful? I called the image The Eleventh Day because I wanted to insinuate that the character has taken a long time to consider what they are going to do and they have left it to the Eleventh Day to decide.

In terms of editing, I looked at a lot of film stills to give me an idea of cinematic grading. I had a specific colour palette in mind- blues and greens- and I stuck with it but I added a few colours that I hadn’t intended to. What I like most about my post processing is that it is such an organic process. I start out with an idea of which colours I would like to use and a general idea of what I want the end image to look like, but I’m extremely open when it comes to editing my images. Sometimes the end result is completely different to what I had anticipated.

Here is my editing process for my image, The Eleventh Day. As you can see, I use a lot of curve adjustment layers, solid colour layers and a few textures. The stormy sky was added right at the end on a whim. I’d never planned to put it there but I felt that the image needed a bit more drama and I like to think that the storminess of the sky reflects the character’s clouded mind.

 

An Experimental Edit

Because the prop I had ordered on Amazon arrived late, I had to postpone my photo shoot for next week.  This meant that I had nothing to do.  Out of sheer boredom, I decided to edit a random image from an old photo shoot.  Halfway through, I decided that I wanted to edit the image differently to how I normally edit an image so I looked at the image, Dark Lands and Evil Plans by photographer Brooke Shaden for inspiration (which just so happened to be the first image I came across looking at the images on my Mac).

I really wanted to use the dark blue/purple tones and yellow highlights of this image and apply it to mine. Most of the editing consisted of Curves and coloured layers.

Dark Lands & Evil Plans

Here is the entire process of the 37 layers from this:

IMG_9182

To this:

An Unplanned Edit

THE PROCESS:

Layer 1:

0Start

Layer 2:

The first thing I did is add a bit of contrast to the image.

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Layer 3:

I raised the highlights a little bit more.

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Layer 4:

I added a blue curves layer  to the darker parts of the image.

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Layer 5:

I then changed the contrast on the RGB  curves channel to make the image more ‘blue’. I also made the shadows darker and the highlights lighter.

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Layer 5:

I then adjusted the contrast on the blue channel whilst adjusting the RGB channel slightly.

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Layer 6:

Added a slight contrast ti the RGB curves channel

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Layer 7:

Darkened the overall image.

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Layer 8:

I added a light yellow layer and set the blend mode to light and the fill to 18%.  This gave the image a slight yellow tinge without being too obvious.

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Layer 9:

I made the highlights lighter.

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Layer 10:

I then added a deep purple coloured layer and set the blend mode onto Darken and set the fill to 28%.  This darkened the image adding a deep purple to the shadows of the image.

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Layer 11:

I then added another light yellow coloured layer and put the blend mode on overlay and the fill on 36%.  This meant that the highlights had a yellow tint to them whilst the shadows remained deep purple.

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Layer 12:

I then decided that I wanted the image to be a lot darker so I added a dark blue layer and set the blend mode t multiply and the fill to 19%. This gave the whole image a slightly darker blue tint.

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Layer 13:

I then raised the Red and Blue curve channels to give the image a strong purple tint.

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Layer 14:

I then darkened the image using RGB curves.

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Layer 15:

Raised the highlights slightly.

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Layer 16:

Darkened the image further.

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Layer 17:

I raised the mid tones of the green curves layer and raised the mid tones of the RGB curves channel.

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Layer 18:

I then darkened te mid tones slightly.

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Layer 19:

I then Raised the red curves and darkened the green curves.

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Layer 20:

I then darkened the blue curves layer.

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Layer 21:

I then added a light green layer and changed the blend mode to multiply and set the fill on 16%. This added a greenish tinge to the highlights on the umbrella and back of the subject.

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Layer 22:

Raised the blue curves slightly.

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Layer 23:

I then adjusted the levels to lighten up the image.

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Layer 24:

I added a curves layer to the image and then layer masked it so only the face was lightened.

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Layer 25:

Raised the blue shadows whilst darkening the blue highlights using the blue curves channel

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Layer 26:

Darkened the shadows.

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Layer 27:

Darkened the blue shadows

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Layer 28:

Lightened the red curves.

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Layer 29:

Lightened the highlights to make them stand out.

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Layer 30:

Lightened the red curves channel and darkened the blue channel.

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Layer 31:

Darkened the blue channel further

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Layer 32:

From here, the overall editing was done, but I decided to play around with the selective colour tool to enhance the colours. Here I edited the green colours, making the highlights look more yellow.

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Layer 33:

I then edited the yellow colour to make the highlights more paler.

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Layer 34:

Edited the blue colour to make the umbrella a deeper colour.

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Layer 35:

I re-edited the yellow colour so that it was less paler.

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Layer 36:

I then decreased the saturation of the whole image.

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Layer 37:

This is final version of the image.  I opened it on a PC and found that it looked a lot lighter than on my Mac. So i decided to darken it but i didn’t like it looked on my Mac. I decided to re-lighten the image and leave it how it was!

37 opened on pc (looks lighter)