Brown brown brown! That’s about all you see this time of year (ok, so maybe my previous post disproves that statement, but still…) So here’s yet another in my mini-series about things I try to turn the monotonous into the vibrant. Previously I’ve converted to black and white, added grain, and in some case a sepia tone.
So my next objective was to see if I could force some actual color into a photo. With this shot I started by warming up the temp to bring out the yellows, and I added just a hint of a gradient filter to the sky. Not too much because I didn’t want the trees to darken to black, but I did want to bring out as much as I could the texture of the overcast sky. I darkened the blacks and midtones a bit to add some contrast and pushed up the brightness considerably to help bring out the grass. I further bumped up the clarity slider considerably (not something I normally do because I find that it brings out artifacts too often). I increased the vibrance by a third.
Whew! And I’m just getting started! I fiddled considerably with the tone curve (which I do pretty regularly), Highlights were increased by nearly 30, lights by 20, darks were taken down by 5 and shadows were lowered a whopping 64. All of this really helped to bring depth and texture to the picture.
I don’t know how other people approach adjusting the curves, but it took me a long time to work out a process that works well for me. I start by adjusting the highlights and then the shadows. Those two controls tend to give me the contrast I’m looking for (usually without touching the contrast slider itself) and then I fine tune with the lights and darks.
I played around a bit with the HSL sliders, and found that bumping up the orange on saturation and luminance gave me the results I liked best, bringing out the color. I also added around 55-60 to the highlights and shadows hues, with less than 10 saturation. This was all just experimentation, but I’ve found in general that if you want to add color to a photo without making it look like it was over-edited, adjust the hue on the highlights and shadows. A little goes a long way.
Finally, I sharpened more and masked less than I usually do to make the blades of grass stand out a little better (in the original all the grass just sort of looks like a single textured blob) and finally added my customary -10 vignette.
Ultimately there’s only so much you can do with a photo that is weak to begin with (well, only so much I can do!) but the result was something I’m at least not embarrassed to post.