Creating Photos with Unique Colours

Dec 27, 2011

Photo Editing Techniques
Jan Saudek (1935-) is a Czech photographer who is well-known in Korea for shooting album jacket images for the singer Hyekyung Park. He is famous for his grotesque works with a dark and insecure atmosphere, selecting a dark old basement with moldy, dappled walls as his shooting scene.

Apr 06, 2010

『Creating Photos with Unique Colours』

Jan Saudek (1935-) is a Czech photographer who is well-known in Korea for shooting album jacket images for the singer Hyekyung Park. He is famous for his grotesque works with a dark and insecure atmosphere, selecting a dark old basement with moldy, dappled walls as his shooting scene. He then adds mystic atmosphere to reality by applying painting on images. It's like applying make-up to images.

■ Writing/photos by Hyunjoon Sim (President of studioSUM, photography and art instructor at Sunchon National University)

Jan Saudek

Even before colour photography was invented, photographers used to modify the colours in their photos by painting on black-and-white photos or using other special techniques to express colour. Since the invention of colour photography, the expression of colour has become more accessible and today, with digital photography common, it has become extremely easy to express colour during the digital process. However, the perfect expression of colours, as with analogue techniques, is not yet possible. In this issue, we will be editing a photo of a female model taken in general mode by adding a little special and unique colour. There are a great number of ways to change image colours using Photoshop, as there are a great number of commands in Photoshop. The method shown below will use the Filter and Curves commands repeatedly to adjust the colour and create a grotesque atmosphere.

1. Photo 04The original image was produced in a studio, using basic lighting for the portrait. To make the skin colour look more natural in this image, select Adjustment > Auto Levels from the Image menu. Generally, shooting a photo using a digital camera with indoor lighting will produce a yellowish or dark image, due to insufficient light and an inaccurate colour temperature. The easy way to solve this using Photoshop is to use Auto Levels, which will produce stable colour and near-realistic brightness. However, this command uses average values, which means the results will not always be perfect.

2. After executing the Auto Levels command, make the image clearer by clicking Sharpen > Unsharp Mask in the Filter menu and setting the Amount to 70, Radius to 1.0 and Threshold to 0. The Unsharp Mask command allows you to adjust values more accurately compared to the Sharpen command.

3. For the overall saturation and brightness, click Adjustment > Hue/Saturation in the Image menu and set Saturation to -45 and Lightness to -10. Press OK.

4. The image is smoother with a lower saturation. Copy a background layer of the image and set the blend mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 70+. This way, the photo will have stronger contrast.

5. Select Blur > Gaussian Blur from the Filter menu and set Radius to 10 to make the overall atmosphere smoother. Since the blend mode of the layer is Soft Light, the blur effect is blended in naturally.

6. To adjust the colour, open Colour Balance for the adjustment layer from the Layers palette, select Shadows under Tone Balance and set Colour Levels to -5, -5, +11. Set Midtones to 0, +10, -10 and Highlights to -5, 0, -4.

7. Press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge all the layers into one combined layer.

8. With this new layer, click Filter > Other > High Pass and set Radius to 5. To make the image clearer, set the blend mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 90+.

9. Create a new layer and select the gradation tool to create a circular gradient. The purpose of using gradation is to make the surrounding area darker and, in this exercise, we are creating gradation centred on the face.

10. For the layer onto which gradation has been applied, change the blend mode to Multiply and Opacity to 65+ to make the corners of the image dark.

11. Press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge all the layers into one combined layer and set the blend mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 70+.

12. Before running the Noise command, press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge all the layers into one combined layer. Select Noise > Add Noise from the Filter menu, set Amount to 22 and press OK.

13. Then click Noise > Median from the Filter menu and set Radius to 1, the blend mode to Screen, and Opacity to 80+.

14. To adjust the colour once again, select Curves for the adjustment layer from the Layers palette and adjust the curve to a similar shape as in Images 33, 34, 35 and 36. The colour changes according to the shape of the curve.

15. Press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge all the layers into one combined layer and set blend mode to Multiply and Opacity to 60+.

16. Select Blur > Gaussian Blur from the Filter menu and set Radius to 7 to make the image smooth, and create a layer mask to enhance smoothness using the brush.

17. Combine all the layers to finish the image with a new unique look.