Color Theory for Photographers

 

Color Theory for Photographers

 

Lesson Info

Manipulating Color Properties in Photoshop

You know we talked about the properties of hue saturation and lightness in Adobe camera on lightroom. And here we have an adjustment layer that does something very similar for us, and it's called the HSL adjustment layer. If you're in photoshop you can come down here to this little half semi-circle thing, and open it up and you have all of your different adjustment layers that you can put on your image. I'm gonna choose the hue saturation illuminance adjustment here. What I really like about this though is that, in Photoshop, we get a whole different perspective. Because we can select exactly what color we want to modify. In lightroom in Adobe camera all, we have red, we have orange, we have blue. But we don't really know what red, orange and blue are, other than trusting that software to tell us what red, blue and orange are. So when we go in we just slam those sliders back and forth and we play with them, which is, you know, it's acceptable. But here we have this thing called the tar...

geted adjustment tool. So if we click on the targeted adjustment tool, we can click on any color here and it's gonna tell us, right here because that changed from master to cyans. And here, I get to manipulate the color of cyan to make it more saturated. But notice what's happening here. Photoshop will allow you to get disgusting with your saturation. It's saying, "you want 100%? "I'll give 100%. "I'm not gonna put a governor on it. "You can go past 65 if you want." So you have to really careful with it in Photoshop, where maybe you just boosted just a little bit. But the same is true on the hue side of things. Notice, that that was zero to 100, or zero to negative 100. Up here, we have zero to 180. Why is it 180? It's 180 because if we were to open up our color wheel. And put a hue saturation adjustment layer on this. And we were to go to our cyans. And I would've modified this 180, look what happens. We can totally tell cyan to become your brother. [Laughter] The one that you pick on. The one that you hate. Become your doppelganger. Become your opposite. Because we're telling it to move. We're telling cyan, "move 180 degrees around "the color wheel and become "something that you're not. "But do it with this adjustment layer." Likewise if we were to move towards the other way, we can change cyan to something like orange. Which, on the color wheel, er green, we're changing cyan over to green to match on what's happening next to it. But we can do that right here within these colors as well. This is obviously something I would never do to one of my photographs, but the idea is to see that intentionally, we can change any color we want, and we can make it more of a hue of blue. So now we take those cyans and we just say, "you know what, cyan, "become a little bit more blue." And now the image looks completely different. You see how much cyan was actually in that sky? Compared to how much blue is now in there now. But then we can come in here and look at another color we can maybe click our targeted adjustment tool. Click on something like the color red. Maybe drop that temperature down or drop the saturation down a little bit. And maybe make it a little bit darker. So now our blue's start to stand out even more. So, this is where you get to decide when we talk about color and emotion, this is the start of it. This isn't where we get really into the mood of it, but this is where we talk about technical corrections with color. Or, technical decisions that you're making with those colors. Is that correct? Well that's objective to the individual. I tend to think that anything is correct in the space of editing. But there are some people that are very strict and say, "well, that color really was blue. "Why are you making it a different color? And they start to get skeptical and they do that... with their glasses. And the next thing is the... There's another tool in here that we can use. And really what I'm going over with this color theory thing is that I wanna equip you with the tools that you can use to modify these things to better understand this. So the next tool I'm gonna show you is going to be the selective color adjustment. And this selective color adjustment is very interesting because unlike the hue saturation adjustment layer, selective color adjustment has a governor in it. And the governor that it has in there is based off of percentages of colors that are available within that color. So if we go into the color red, you notice how we have four properties here. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black. And percentages with them. So if we go into the color red, right here, and we go negative under cyan, it's pulling the cyan out of that color red. Any cyan that's in there that's holding it back from being a more potent color of red, cause that's what's happening there. We're not changing the property of that color red to bebecome more intense and boost the saturation. But notice how we did not boost the saturation, that color red, by adding saturation. We boosted the saturation how? By removing it's compliment. We just told the compliment, "hey, get outta here." "We don't need you in here because "you're overtaking this color red." But at the same token, you can say, "you know, lets make that red "a little bit more green." And now it gets into, because the opposite of magenta here would be green on that complimentary color wheel. If we bring this up, it's now more magenta. We bring it down. It's now less magenta, or, more green. Because we're adding a percentage of green to it by removing the amount of magenta that's in it. Again you have black down here. So what's the opposite of black? White. So if we boost up the amount of black that's in there, we're gonna make that, tonally, more dark. If we bring it down, we're gonna make it tonally, lighter. By removing the black that's in it, or increasing the amount of black that's in it. If you're looking at color, and the hue saturation adjustment layer is one of those things that kinda freaks you out because it can go really far really fast, then your better method is gonna be the selective color adjustment. But you can't just open a selective color adjustment and say, "well I want more saturation in it" because there's no saturation there. So you have to understand these color theory principles. That if I wanna make that red more vibrant, what's its counterpart? It's counterpart is cyan. So just bump down that cyan a little bit and my reds are gonna get boosted up. Now, this is a very easy practical image to look at when we're looking at selective color. So let's look at something a little bit more on the... What you would actually use this for cy? Because the hot air balloon is too easy. But now we have, if we look at this image, this is from Bridal Veil Fall. It doesn't look like a very difficult image to take. But as a landscape photographer was a complete nightmare. Complete and utter nightmare. Because we were there in May, when all the snow was burning off and the water was just dumping down Bridal Veil. So when you walked over here, it was shoot, wipe, shoot, wipe, shoot, wipe. And you had to constantly make sure that that lens was wiped off. But then when you got your camera back, your whole camera was soaked so, yeah. Maybe not a good idea but I liked the image that I got from it. The thing about this selective color thing is that now we look at this image and we say, "well you know what, let's look at those yellows." It's uh, what time of year is it? It's fall right? So let's take a look at those yellows and see what we can do to make them a little bit more on the fall side. So if we wanna make them a little bit more on the fall side, I might go ahead and remove some of the cyan from that yellow. To boost up some of the colors in that because I know what's gonna happen. We go out, especially in this area we got a lot of greenery. And you go out there and we got this majestic idea that all the leaves are gonna be these golden yellow and red and orange and you're just gonna have a happy day. It's not gonna happen. You're gonna have some ugly leaves, you're gonna have some leaves that have too much yellow in them, you're gonna have some leaves that have too much green in them. But this is why you're an artist, as a photographer, is that you can come in here and you could say, "you know what? "I really wanted these to be more around "that fall color look so let me remove "some of this cyan that's in there "to make them more red, okay. "Or let me come in here and "add more green to them, "to make it more of a summer look. "Or add some more magenta to them, "to continue with that fall theme. "Let me add some more yellow to it "to continue with that fall theme. "And maybe boost up some of "the darks in there as well too." So we have an image shot in May, that now starts to look like an image shot in the fall. So, from a practical perspective, you can even come in here to these reds. And if those reds are not looking like you want them to be, you can just modify them. Tone them down by adding cyan because adding cyan is gonna tone down those reds. And we can start just kinda playing and manipulating with color. I can do this all day long as long as you're willing to watch. [Laughter] But there we just added some intensity to it to really kinda push that mold a little bit there.

Class Description

Color Theory is often referred to as "Painter's Knowledge." However, the truth is that having a strong foundation in Color Theory as a photographer can make a world of difference in your finishing effects and help you define your artistic style. Post processing expert Blake Rudis walks through Color Theory from the basics to the practical application so that you can improve your photography, post processing techniques, and style.