Thursday, November 12, 2009

Selective Desaturation

I'm hesitant to bring this up so quickly, because it is among the most abused techniques used by amateur photographers. And with the feature some point-and-shoots have to set one color range for the camera to be sensitive to, it's becoming even more of a problem. So before I tell you how to do it, let me first try to dissuade you from doing it too much. The photo I have as an example in this article is not a particularly good photo; it's just the only photo I have that demonstrates this effect. Overusing this effect is tacky. Save it only for the best of your photos, and the ones that will really be improved a lot by implementing a selective desaturation.

Selective desaturation is a misnomer. It should be called selective saturation, because when you're done, most of your image will be in black and white. Only a few details will be left in color. Essentially, you start with a photograph which has already been optimized (color corrected, etc.), choose a couple of elements that you want to remain in color, and select them (via the lasso, magic wand, or what have you). Invert the selection, and desaturate. Presto, you have a selectively desaturated image.

click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr

I wanted the leaves to be left in color for the above picture. Rather than meticulously selecting each leaf with the lasso, I just noticed that they were all pretty close to the same color. I used the select color range tool, and set the tolerance to as high as I could go without including non-leaf areas in the selection. The result is that it looks rather sloppy - some leaves aren't selected entirely, as they had areas of shadow that weren't similar enough to my sample color to be included in the selection.

Bear in mind that you can manually select different elements; they don't have to be the same color.

1 comment:

Like what you see? Have a question? Leave me a comment!