USE CREATIVE COLOUR
Play with colour bias to find the perfect mix of tones for your photographic signature
Colour balance is another area of photo editing that is often governed by a subjective definition of correctness. While a truly colourcorrected image will be devoid of a warm or cool bias, with neutral tonality in each of the shadows, midtones and highlights, this will not guarantee a successful file. As is the case when working with exposure, a photo can only be considered correct if it fulfils its intended function. Once brightness has been decided on, colour adjustment will likely be the next stage in devising a novel processing workflow. Global colour will often not be the focus of experimentation during this process, as the effect of altering the overall colour cast may be too strong for refined manipulation. However, deciding on the appropriate colour theme for your shot will lay the foundations for the final style. From this, it is possible to predict how more targeted alterations will impact on the mood of the shot. Local colour changes will introduce some contrast of hues within the frame, adding depth through spatial separation. This can be achieved by using Photoshop brushes or the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom, to paint additional colour over isolated zones. This affords the photographer total control over where in the frame different colour appears, providing the freedom to style each shot appropriately. Alternatively, Split Toning – adding differential colour to highlights and shadows – creates a chromatic juxtaposition based on brightness. While classic Split Toning, commonly involving the addition of blue tones to shadows, is a long-established technique, there is an almost unlimited scope for trialling new combinations of colours. Often this can produce usable results, although it can sometimes be helpful to have a particular influence in mind. For example, cinema is a significant reference for current and evolving processing styles. By studying how contrasting and complementary colours are used together in poster images and on-screen, a photographer can learn to adapt various mixes to a range of subjects.