Creative Color Temperature and Raw Processing
Excerpted by permission from the forthcoming book, "The Creative Digital Darkroom" by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan (O'Reilly Media), available Dec. 15.
Color is the musical score of the image, and just as the musical score changes how you feel about a movie scene, the image’s color treatment will influence or, more fittingly said, will “tint” the viewer’s emotional response. The ability to experiment with image adjustment layers and creative color interpretations is a source of inspiration for me, and it is often surprising how the subtlest color adjustment can shift the emotional impact of an image.
We’ve all made the effort to wake before sunrise to take pictures in dawn’s golden hour or skipped dinner to shoot during dusk when the light is raking across the landscape. Although Photoshop can’t change the time of day in which you shot the image, it can influence the image’s color rendition to infer moods and emotions.
Neutral is highly overrated
In most cases the goal of processing digital files is to create color-neutral and well-exposed images, but in many cases neutral is simply not the best choice for an image. Take a look at the comparison in Figure 8-33, which shows how Katrin saw, and the camera recorded, the pre-sunrise shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then how a raw converter set to automatic sucked all the passion out of the scene. Adding creative color interpretations during raw processing is a very subjective and emotional progression that can be a welcome break from the dogma of neutral, picture-perfect image production.
Figure 8-33. Raw conversion, set to automatic, can suck the passion from a scene.
Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Lightroom are tremendous tools to enhance the emotional aspect of images by letting you bend the rules of reality-bound image processing to create subtle and moody images. The advantage of doing creative work in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop Lightroom is you can rework and reinterpret the same image many times without ever degrading the original file. Additionally, the benefit of experimenting in the raw processor is that all the controls to influence color, contrast, and exposure are close at hand, enabling you to work very fluidly as you tweak one setting and then refine another.
Working Smart with Smart Objects
Before we dive into the world of creative color, always put on your water wings or life preserver to keep your head above the raw waters. In this case, we highly recommend working with Smart Objects, which in Photoshop CS3 with Adobe Camera Raw 4 (or later) is both an easy and convenient feature that gives you access to Adobe Camera Raw controls even after the image has been brought into Photoshop.