Even the magical light of the golden hour requires some enhancement in post-processing. There are a few ways to do it, and Denny Tang of Denny’s Tips suggest one of the simplest I’ve seen so far. He uses a single adjustment layer, and it’s the Channel Mixer. The whole editing process is pretty fast, yet gives natural-looking results on the photos taken during sunset (or sunrise).
Why the Channel Mixer?
With vibrance and saturation adjustments, the image will quickly begin to look over-processed. When you enhance the colors with Channel Mixer, the results will be more natural-looking and more details will remain preserved.
How to do it?
Open the image in Photoshop, and add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer.
First, select the Red channel and adjust it as follows: set the Green and the Blue to -50% and the Red to +200%.
Then, select the Blue channel, set the Red and Green to -50% and the Blue to +200%.
From here, the colors can still look too intensified and unnatural. So, you may need to decrease the layer opacity for optimal results.
You can save these settings as a preset for future editing. Go to the panel menu in the top right corner, choose “Save Preset” and give it a name. You will later be able to access it from the “Preset” drop-down menu.
Here are some of the examples of color enhancement with Channel Mixer and Vibrance, so you can compare. I used 100% vibrance and 50% saturation with the Vibrance adjustment layer and reduced the opacity to around 50%. With the Channel Mixer, I followed the tutorial and reduced the opacity to 50-70%, depending on the image.
And here are some of Denny’s examples. He left the layer opacity 100% in all photos to show the impact of the channel mixer adjustments:
Have you used this method to enhance colors in the photos taken during golden hour? If not, what’s your preferred method for doing it?