To celebrate Women’s History Month, here’s a selection of the many documentaries on women photographers I’ve collected and shared over the years.
Plus, you’ll find links to quotes and image collections at the end.
Diane Arbus| View
Ruth Bernhard | View
Laura Gilpin | View
Nan Goldin | View
Lauren Greenfield | View
Lois Greenfield | View
Mary Ellen Mark | View
Cristina Mittermeier | View
Tina Modotti | View
Sarah Moon | View
Elizabeth Opalenik | View
Cindy Sherman | View
Before and after the Gradient Map
Whether used subtly or dramatically, Photoshop’s Gradient Map color adjustment tool can open up new ways of seeing and working with color for any artist. Photoshop’s Gradient Map assigns new colors to existing brightness values. With it, you can enhance existing colors, transfer colors from one image to another, or create entirely new color relationships. It can be wild!
The Gradient Map
The Gradient Map interface looks difficult to use but with a few pointers you’ll find it surprisingly easy to use. While you can apply a Gradient Map directly to a layer (Images: Adjustments: Gradient Map), I recommend you apply Gradient Maps as adjustment layers (Layer: New Adjustment Layer: Gradient Map), to take advantage of both the greater flexibility and control you’ll gain over the final effect. Once activated, there are a number of default presets you can experiment with but it’s most likely that you will want to create your own. Simply click on an existing gradient in the Properties panel to activate the Gradient Editor. Click New. Click at the bottom of the gradient to add new colors. A pointer will appear, double click it or the Color box to choose a color. You can move the pointer to direct the color into different tonal values (Move left to target darker values and right to target lighter values. Alternately, enter a new number in the Location field.) while the diamonds left and right of it will control how each color fades into surrounding colors. You can add dozens of different pointers/colors, but for most applications I recommend you restrain yourself to as few as possible. You can delete a pointer/color by clicking on it and clicking Delete or by pressing the Delete key. When you create an effect you’d like to use more than once, type a Name and click Save; you can easily store, retrieve, and share these “grd” files.
The color effects you can generate with the Gradient Map are so powerful and so varied you simply must spend a little time experimenting with it to truly understand both how far you can go and how subtle you can get. Consider this kind of visual research time well spent.
After you’re done experimenting, then it’s time to deliver.
Working with the Gradient Map often takes a little finessing. You’re likely to be a little disappointed if you try and get the perfect colors with the Gradient Map alone. You can spend a great deal of time picking and repicking colors until you get it just right. Instead, try working more broadly, getting close to a desired effect and then fine-tuning the results.
Layer Blend Modes give more control
Layer Style removes effects from shadows and/or highlights
Here are the go to tools for fine-tuning the results of Gradient Map adjustment layers. Use the Opacity slider to reduce effects that are too strong. For selective opacity, add a layer mask. Use Blend If sliders (double click on a layer to activate them) to reduce or remove effect from shadows or highlights or both. If transitions created by Blend If sliders aren’t smooth enough, use a luminance mask.
Normal and Hard Light blend modes compared
Blend Modes can be used to add more control over the way colors mix. In particular, focus on the color blend modes (Hue and Color) and the contrast blend modes (Overlay, Soft Light, and Hard Light). Hue restrains the effect to that element of color only. Color restrains the effect to both hue and saturation, removing any effect on luminosity. In order of increasing intensity, Soft Light, Overlay, and Hard Light boost contrast and gradient colors will have a more transparent appearance.
Even with all of this control, it’s likely that you’ll find the best results are most often achieved by using this tool to create an interesting color foundation and then refining it with additional color adjustment tools like Curves and Hue/Saturation.
Once you’ve mastered the interface the real challenge begins – visualizing color possibilities. Pre-visualization can only go so far; instead use software as a tool for visualization. Instead of rushing to a single finished result, I prefer to work on multiple copies of an image to make side-by-side comparisons of a set of variations. The possibilities are seemingly so limitless that you must perform some experiments to find the best solution. If your experiments are both targeted and iterative, then you’ll generate many solutions that are more likely to be optimum.
Here a little color theory can be useful. Use dark colors in shadows and light colors in highlights; otherwise you may posterize or solarize. Use analogous colors (similar color families) to create transitions; transitions between complimentary colors tend to get muddy. Variations on earth tones work well for both realistic and antique effects. Variations on warm colors can add intensity, even fire. Variations on cool colors can generate nocturnal and even aquatic effects.
Remember, you can sample colors from one image and apply them to another. Gradient Map effects are distributed based on lightness values so keep this in mind when selecting and transferring colors.
Black and white conversion plus toning created with Gradient Map
Amazingly, you can even make successful color to black and white conversions with Gradient Maps – just use neutral colors. Again, for naturalistic effects, you’ll want to create progressions that move from dark to light, but the steps and the transitions in between can be varied substantially. Guard against posterization and excessive noise. You can even create black and white toning solutions with the Gradient Map; it’s excellent for split tone effects that target different hues into different tonal values.
Photoshop’s Gradient Map is an exotic color adjustment tool that can be a real game changer. If you truly understand the possibilities this tool opens up you will have learned to see in new ways. What could be more valuable?
Read more on Color Adjustment here.
Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.
B&H celebrates International Women’s Day with its Women of Influence series.
Cristina Mittermeier is an accomplished conservationist, wildlife photographer, and author, who has dedicated her life to education and outreach through the stories reflected in her photos. In this episode, Cristina shares her message of conservationism, an appreciation for natural splendor, and the relationship humans have with the wild.
Find out more about Cristina Mittermeier here.
View more Photographer’s Videos here.
Photoshop’s Match Color
Little explored and capable of opening up whole new frontiers in color adjustment, Photoshop’s Match Color is a tool every user should be aware of – even if it’s only to know what’s possible.
There are three primary reasons to consider using Match Color: one, to match two colors exactly; two, to remove strong color casts; and three, to creatively apply the color in one image to another.
Match Colors Precisely
When a precise color match is critical, for instance when matching the same products in two images, Match Color is hard to beat. And, in terms of easy of use, using it beats placing sample points and moving sliders to make the targets match. You can create statistics from and apply the effect to either an entire image or only a portion of an image using selections.
Remove Strong Color Casts
Match Color does an exceptional job of removing strong color casts. One of the primary reasons it was developed and most common uses for it is to remove the strong color cast in underwater images. It does an amazing job at revealing the complex color relationships below the color cast. Here, you don’t even need a source image. Just check Neutralize. If the effect is too strong you could use the Fade slider, but I recommend you apply the effect to a duplicate layer and use the Opacity slider of the layer or if you want to reduce the effect selectively, use a layer mask. Using this feature on images that don’t contain strong color casts often produces pleasing results too.
Create Complex Color Changes
This is where it really gets interesting. What if you took colors from a candy store and applied them to the sky? What if you took colors from a sunset and applied them to a landscape? What if … I know, I sound like a kid. You’ll feel like a kid when you use Match Color. It seems like anything is possible. When you first view the results, you’ll do a double or triple take. You have to see it to believe it.
The math is complicated, very complicated. The tool’s interface is simple and easy to use. Learning how and when to use it is deliciously challenging. With practice you can develop an intuitive feel for the direction color relationships will move in and start to think predictively when using Match Color, but the final effect it generates is usually so complex you have to see it to believe it.
Taming The Beast
Match Color samples the colors from one image and applies the resulting statistics to another image; all three elements of color Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity are taken into account in both the source and the target images. To do this a minimum of two files must be open at one time, a source and a target. Once saved, you can load these statistics in the future to any image, as long as it is in RGB. Match Color only works in RGB color mode. Not available as either a non-destructive adjustment layer or a Smart Filter, Match Color must be applied permanently to a layer, so consider applying it to a duplicate or composite merged layer.
You have limited controls over the results. The Neutralize check box; try it, you might like it – a lot. The Luminance slider; be careful of the image’s dynamic range when using it. The Color Intensity slider; in addition to saturation it also control how much variety in hue is generated – higher settings produces more of both. The Fade slider; it’s reduction of the effect is slightly different than applying the full effect to a layer and then reducing its Opacity, but the former cannot be localized so I prefer the latter.
One check box, Neutralize, and three sliders give you some controls over the results.
You can either use all the colors in an image or only colors within a selection in a source image to create statistics from; after making a selection in the source image go to the target image and in the Match Color dialog box check Use Selection in Source to Calculate Colors.
One portion of source selected
Another portion of source selected
Alternately, you can modify the calculation by selecting a portion of the target image; after making a selection in the target image, apply Match Color and check Use Selection in Target to Calculate Adjustment. If you’d like to apply that effect to the entire image instead of just a portion of it, instead of applying the effect, check Save Statistics, then press Cancel, and when you reapply Match Color check Load Statistics.
Two sources applied consecutively
You can even apply several statistic sets progressively to the same layer to create still different effects.
Effect layered over original
Layer Blend Modes give more control
Layer Style gives you still more control
You can use the many power of layers to control how the new colors blend with the old. Reduce the layer’s Opacity to restore some of the original color; add a layer mask to do this selectively. Use the layer’s blend mode to control how the new colors mix with the original colors; in particular try the blend modes Color and Hue, which will use the new hues with the original luminosities. Use the layer’s Blend If sliders to remove the effect from shadows and/or highlights; alternately, use a luminosity mask. Applying Match Color to a new layer gives you a safety net (You can always return to the original color.), allows you to easily compare more variations, and gives you more control.
One of the strategies that really makes this technique shine is to first create an interesting color foundation with Match Color and layer options and then refine the colors further with additional color adjustment tools.
Controlling the effect with more any precision is challenging. You can change the colors of either the source or the target images before creating and /or applying the statistics. Use any tool in Photoshop. The question is how? (Here’s one tip. Inverting colors before sampling them often generates interesting results.) Doing this involves a lot of trial and error. Yet, these color experiments can sometimes be profitable. Once in a while, they lead to real breakthroughs. At a bare minimum, they’ll encourage you to think more flexibly about color.
Match Color is an exotic color adjustment tool that can be a real game changer. Try it and you’ll see and think about color in new ways. What could be more exciting?
Read more on Color Adjustment here.
Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.
Do you wish you could improve the quality of the images your lenses deliver after exposure? You can, using software. Adobe’s Lens Corrections feature uses a digital image file’s EXIF metadata about camera and lens to automate cures for standard lens distortions, including geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting.
Your digital camera can produce two types of files – Raw and JPEG.
One can be seen instantly, because it is already processed – JPEG. The other, needs to be processed to be seen – Raw.
Few people have actually seen what an unprocessed Raw file looks like. To be seen properly Raw files need to be rendered or changed. What you see on your camera’s LCD is a JPEG produced on the fly by your camera. What you see in programs like Adobe Lightroom or Bridge are previews made with their default renderings.
Raw files are curious things. They contain color, but not a color image – yet.
Enjoy this collection of quotes on Risk.
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” ― William Faulkner
“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” — Andre Gide
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot
“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” ― Hunter S. Thompson
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd
“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” – Oprah Winfrey
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg