A popular “look” for photos is one in which there is an added color tone that can add interest, depth or style to a shot. Some viewers will prefer the shot in the original form, some will like the shot in the color toned form. This tutorial should assist you in deciding which is your camp…original or altered….and give you some idea how to use Photoshop to accomplish the task.
I’ll show the before shots as well as the after, and the ones with color added are obvious. They will have additional light or additional color and they are easily distinguished. Do you favor the manipulated color and light, or that which is more true to life? The three “before” shots with natural lighting are shown on the left. The manipulated shots showing color toning photos are on the right.
If you’re in the camp who prefers natural light, then no need to learn the tricks. But if you want to mimic this style, here’s how. The shot with the petunias is accomplished using additional Photoshop layers and the gradient tool. I used a gradient that went from orange to transparent, since there was orange in the original image. I built up the effect with 3 layers, all blended with the soft light blending setting. I used about 50% opacity on each of those layers. I let one of the gradients affect the skin tones, but mostly I placed the gradients away from the subject and on the floral background. There are many tutorials available for the gradient tool, the best of which are by Phlearn if you don’t know this tool. The gradient tool and paint bucket tool are on the same space on the menu in Photoshop.
For the picture by the creek, I used additional layers and soft light blending as well. In this instance, I simply used a large and soft brush, and painted yellow as well as white. White makes it look brighter where it was painted. I applied the paint to the new layer and used the soft light blending. Two layers were done in a manner so as not to affect the subject’s clothing, hair or skin. The trick for that is this: I used the pen tool to select her (again, Phlearn Pro is the best teacher I know for the pen tool) and inverted the selection so only the background was affected, not the subject. While I had the subject inversely selected and was affecting only the background I also used a color gradient in NIK to affect the bottom fourth of the image (adding a bit of turquoise). On the third painting white/yellow pass I turned off the selection and let the blending overlay the subject as well. That way she’s not massively changed by the color infusion, but looks a part of the photo since some is affecting her image as well. Simply by using the soft light blending and controlling the opacity for each layer, you can decide just how strong you want the final color toning to appear.
Finally, in the window shot, I changed the light in the easiest way. I used the NIK software and added a gold reflector effect. Kapow! One click and you’re there. Just decide the angle and the extent of the affect by manipulating the sliders and the transformation is complete.
That’s a simple way to add color toning photos to your bag of Photoshop tricks. This method can make portraits in the garden interesting and colorful and assure a style that’s all your own.