Saturday, December 26, 2009

Extreme Post-Processing

I went up the canyon near my house a couple days ago, and was able to snap one keeper before Mother Nature forced me back into the safety of my heated car. Having read about some cool post-processing tricks earlier, I decided to try one out. Quite frankly, it was more because I wanted to try the new technique out than because I thought it would look particularly good on this specific photo, but I'm pretty happy with the result.

click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/8
ISO: 80

When I first took the photo, I wasn't thinking with post-processing in mind, which actually led to some problems down the road. I wanted to increase the "cold" feel of the picture, so I shot with Tungsten white-balance. This added a lot of blue, but when I got it onto the computer, it looked kind of fake.

To get the effect, here are the steps I took in Photoshop.

1. Duplicate background layer.
2. B&W second layer with a Channel Mixer mask layer.
3. Put a Solid Color mask layer over at whatever opacity I used. I picked a dark green olive-ish color.
4. Flatten that out so I'm down to two layers again (1 original untouched image, 1 green monochrome).
5. Added a texture to my green monochrome image. It's super subtle. I think I only used 10% opacity.
6. Used the Levels box to remove some of the blue from my background layer. I took out enough that it probably posterized pretty badly, but that was taken care of in the next step.

7. Changed the blending mode on my green monochrome layer to Hue, played with opacity until the colors (olive green and cold blue) mixed to produce the color you see in the image.
8. Flattened, added a vignette.

This technique is really really fluid in that you can play with blending styles, colors, levels, opacity, or even paint-mask out parts of the colors if you want. I didn't even touch the Brightness/Contrast box after the final image was done, though in hindsight, I probably should have.

If you're crazy enough to try this technique (or a similar one), post a link in the comments. I'd love to see your results.


  1. I just got a book for a Christmas gift that gives a lot of examples of post processing. I plan on using it in the coming year. It should be a lot of fun.

    I like the color effect on this photo. It does have a cold look to it.

  2. The first thing I noticed from your photo details is slow shutter speed and handheld resulting a sharp images. That's awesome.
    I like the color, I can feel the cold look from your photos. Try to experiment with the angel. :)

  3. Thanks for the comments guys. And Nasyarobby—my image stabilization on my camera is really impressive. I've been very happy with it.


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