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Making the most of your images with color

January 10, 2019

I recently had a friend send me some very fine black and white photographs that he'd taken with the request that I color them. I don't generally like to touch anyone else's images but I made an exception in this case because I've known my friend for many years and I could see that although the original images he'd captured were very nice and interesting, but in today's world with a glut of images that we all look at, I could also see that the black and white shots he sent me wouldn't draw many eyes. So, I thought I would share my method in this post in case anyone wants to enhance a black and white with color.


Everything I did was done entirely in Adobe Photoshop, since I knew he had the program and would be able to expand more easily on my work with his image if we used the same software. Here's the black

and white photo.

 The first thing I did was to increase the image contrast to give it a little more drama.

You will notice that the red looks kind of anemic. That's because I did not want it to look too opaque and painted. I wanted it to interact with the original image so that the lines in the ice were visible. There are different ways to do this but I wanted a certain effect so that the color had a lot of texture. So the red layer I left in a "normal" blending mode (the little pull down menu at the top of the layers palette). Then, over it I set a layer which I set in the "saturation" blending mode. Then I used the same red to color the smaller shapes surrounding the heart shape. I painted the smaller forms on the "saturation" layer.


Then I added another layer with a "soft light" blending mode setting with a dark blue rectangle covering the entire layer. Then to get the colors I wanted in the final piece, I added a rectangle of green on another "soft light" layer setting and placed that layer above the one I had put down with the blue tone layer. The green rectangle I made somewhat smaller so that it's edges would be visible.



Here is the finished image:



I noticed that the original image had the true shape of a human heart. So the first thing I did was to make it vertical so it's shape would be more evident. Then I used color to emphasize the character of a heart. I began by coloring the white heart shape at the center, red. In order to do this I used the magic wand tool to select the central white area which I though had the greatest interest and filled it with a red I liked. Without making any changes to my friends' image other than color, all the great qualities of the original image were emphasized and the result was much more striking. 

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