One of the great things about Photoshop is that you can do almost everything in a variety of different ways. Blake Rudis of f64 Academy shows you how to enhance landscape photos using the Selective Color adjustment layer.
Frankly, I don’t know many people who enhance photos this way (including myself). So, I found this approach very interesting, and as it turned out – pretty useful, too. Using Selective Color on landscape photos gives you a great control and a wide range of changes to apply – from slightly enhanced natural look to the popular look with lifted blacks.
Selective color and Hue/Saturation are not the same. Selective color allows you to enhance the colors by adding or removing the colors from it. Blake explains it in a great example: it’s like a painter mixing colors on the palette.
When you open the Selective Color adjustment layer, you will get to pick out one out of six colors, plus whites, neutrals, and blacks. For each of these colors, you’ll get four sliders to adjust: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black.
Now, let’s say you pick the blue color and want to adjust it. If you pull the Magenta slider to the right, you’ll add the percentage of magenta to the color blue. Unlike the Hue-Saturation adjustments, this will not make your blues become magenta entirely. If you move the slider to the left, you will add green, because that’s the opposite color of magenta on a digital color wheel.
When you adjust the Black within the blue color, you will add or remove the percentage or black, which will make the color blue lighter or darker.
You can adjust the other colors this way and make exactly what works for your image. Of course, if there are parts of the photo where you don’t want to apply the enhancements, paint over the layer mask with the black brush.
Blake also uses the Selective Color tool to make the grass greener, and this tool is great if you don’t want to overdo it. He does it by adjusting the yellows and the greens. Of course, for the most realistic results, you can also reduce the opacity of the Selective Color layer, or use “Color” blending mode.
Enhancing whites, neutrals and blacks
Within the colors you can choose for editing, there are also whites, neutrals, and blacks. Blake enhances them so that he creates the popular “washed out” or “cinematic” look with lifted blacks.
If you adjust the blacks and remove some of the blacks from it, you’ll get the look that’s a bit too washed out. So, you can right-click on the adjustment layer and go to Blending Options > Blend If. Now move the slider of the Underlying layer towards the blacks. You can split the slider by pressing the Alt key (Option on Mac) and moving it, so you’ll create smoother transitions. We’ve described it in this tutorial, but of course – make sure to watch the video in this article, too.
If you already haven’t mastered the color theory, now is the right time to do it, since this adjustment technique relies on it a lot. And of course, understanding the color theory will generally help you in your work.
[Selective Color Adjustment in Photoshop | f64 Academy]