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Achieving neutrality in your images is so important. Few things are as important. Why?

Here are 4 reasons.

1 – The color in your images will appear more believable.

Casts make colors seem false. This is true for memory colors like fire engine red, sky blue, and grass green, particularly true for flesh tones (Are you feeling a little bit green today?), but nowhere more true than with neutrals. There can be some debate about which blue is sky blue. On which day? At what time? But there’s very little debate about what gray is truly neutral. Sure those neutral grays can vary in brightness but not hue or saturation. Make the neutrals in your images truly neutral and you’ll make the other colors in your images more believable.

2 – The colors in your images will look more saturated.

When you remove color casts you can see the colors beneath them more clearly. The color beneath appears purer. This effect won’t be as strong as if you had increased their saturation. It will be subtler but more convincing. Oversaturated colors often appear false and you’ll have to work the saturation of your colors twice as hard if they contain color casts. Clean color is a great foundation to add saturation to. You can get the best of both worlds.

3 – Your images will appear more three-dimensional.

Without casts, the colors in your images will have more contrast.

They’ll have more luminosity contrast. When they’re not unified by a color cast, luminosity or brightness values will become more distinct.

They’ll have more hue contrast. Often shadows will appear cooler while highlights appear warmer, making them appear even more different than they already are.

They’ll have more saturation contrast. When neutrals are neutral you’ll get maximum contrast between them and the more saturated colors in your image.

Add these three kinds of color contrast together and you’ll see a dramatic difference in your images. The illusions of three-dimensional depth and volume in our two-dimensional images will be significantly amplified.

Once again, these effects will be powerfully felt but not obvious. Clean colors won’t call attention to themselves because they seem natural, unlike imbalanced images that you’ll need to over-process to get similar effects.

4 – You’ll have the best color foundations to make black and white conversions from.

It sounds strange when you first hear it but color matters even when you’re going to remove it. The maximum hue and saturation separation created by achieving neutrality gives you more control about how dark or light to make hues during conversions to black and white.

5 – You’ll know color management is working.

Neutrals are one of the first things to look for when you’re checking your color management for printing, whether it’s evaluating a viewing light, examining a profile, a rendering intent, or a media setting. You not only look for neutral midtones but also neutrals throughout the entire tonal scale (gray balance). If you’ve achieved both your color management is working correctly. If not, check your system.

I’m sure you’ll find a few more reasons why neutrality in your images is so important.

Achieving neutrality in your images isn’t something you do for all of your images. There are many exceptions. Nevertheless, being able to achieve neutrality in your images a critically important skill. When you know how and why to achieve neutrality all of your color choices become more sensitive, deliberate, and meaningful.

Read more on Color Adjustment here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

 

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There are many ways to achieve neutrality in your images. The results they offer are not same. You need to know the differences so you can make better choices and get solutions that are right for you and your images. Explore them and you’ll be more likely to make better choices for your images in the future. Keep exploring them and you’ll open up a world of possibilities within your images.

WB

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Lightroom & Camera Raw White Balance Dropper and Sliders

The simplest way to achieve neutrality is to correctly set white balance during Raw conversion, with Lightroom or Camera Raw. Click on the eyedropper tool and click on a target area within the image. It’s that simple.

What’s not so simple is identifying a good target. This will be easy if you photographed a color checker within the image or in a separate exposure at the same time, but few do. If you’re like most photographers you’ll have to identify a good target visually, introducing a margin of error equal to your discernment. Usually the best choices are midtones. This tool also works well with highlights; but they’re more likely to carry color casts that you won’t see at first glance.

After you click on a target, the results can be refined further with the Temperature (blue to yellow) and Tint (green to magenta) sliders.

Remember, you can use Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop too.

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Normal blend mode

Color blend mode

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Match Color

Match Color is Photoshop’s often unfound and overlooked feature that offers such sophisticated results when neutralizing colors that it’s often surprising. Not all colors will be affected equally – and that can be a good thing. Using Match Color is even easier than using Lightroom / Camera Raw’s white balance eye-dropper because you don’t need to click on a target. Simply check the box Neutralize – and leave all the other sliders and drop down menus alone.


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Saturation Is An Essential Key To The Success Of Your Images

One of the most distinctive features of a visual artist’s use of color is their use of saturation. When you think of Ansel Adams’ photographs you think of neutral images rather than highly saturated ones. When you think of Matisse’s paintings you think of supersaturated images rather than neutral ones. Think of your use of saturation as an essential element that will help you define your own signature style.

One of three elements of color (luminosity, hue, and saturation), saturation can give your images specific qualities of energy and light. Here are five things you can do with saturation: one, increase energy and impact; two, add complexity by revealing hidden hues; three, restore life to listless hues; four, calm colors that are distracting; or five, produce softer semi-neutral and pastel palettes.

Read more about Saturation here.

Together, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop offer an impressive, almost overwhelming, array of possibilities for controlling saturation. Do three things before you choose a tool to adjust saturation with. First, understand and develop your eye for saturation. Second, adopt a consistent strategy for exploring the possibilities it offers your images. Third, understand the differences between the tools, both how they function and the effects they produce.

Know What To Look For

Knowing what to look for will help you choose a direction, a tool, and how far to go with it. It will also help you evaluate the results you produce – and quite possibly improve them further.


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In this Epson video my father and I share insights into our creative lives and our passion for printing.

Learn about our exhibit here.

View our catalog here.

View our ebook here.

Learn more in my digital printing workshops.

 


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Flypaper Textures Autumn Painterly Collection Texture for artwork and photography from Flypaper Textures

Color psychology is the study of how color affects human behavior. It’s a long-standing, field used in art, design, marketing, sports, medicine, and much more.

Despite its long history and widespread use, there’s a lot more to discover about how color affects people scientifically. Here’s are a few facts that have been scientifically proven.

We see certain colors more quickly than others.

Warm colors are stimulating and cool colors are calming.

A red room feels 10 degrees warmer, while a blue room feels 10 degrees cooler.

Colors can enhance the effectiveness of placebos.

The presence of green speeds healing.

Athletes perform better in certain colors and get penalized more in others.

Clearly, the responses to color are at once physical, psychological, and social, so identifying the strongest contributor(s) to a response(s) is no easy matter. The more social the response, the more likely it is to vary between individuals. Socially, color psychology has many layers – universal, cultural, regional, communal, individual. And then there’s time. Age (as well as gender) can also influence how a person perceives and interacts with color. An era or a moment can become important factors too. It’s complicated but it’s fascinating!

Color affects body, mind, and emotions. Color can be used by physicians to promote physical and psychological health, by businesses to brand identities and influence purchasing decisions, by political movements to propagate values and ideas, and by artists to communicate aesthetics and emotions. Color is a powerful communication tool that can be used to influence perception, mood, and action.

Considering the psychological dimensions of color consciously will give you a greater awareness of the phenomenon of color and improve your ability to communicate with it. Remember, there are shared responses to color and you have your own individual responses to color. Being able to tell the difference can be insightful. This mindfulness is something every visual artist will benefit from.

How will you use color?

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.


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Flypaper Textues. Texture overlay for photography and artwork, Flypaper Tex Box 2

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see a color? Chances are you’re not alone. Color associations come from many sources universal, cultural, regional, communal, and individual. These all change over time, with changes happening faster at the individual level than the global level.

It’s useful to understand what associations accompany colors for a majority of people. This understanding can be used to influence perception, clarify statements, reinforce messages, produce physical responses, and elicit emotional reactions.

It’s also useful to understand what associations accompany colors for yourself. This understanding can become the basis for a personal palette that gives your images a unique style. It will clarify and deepen your personal journey.

You’ll find classic associations with the colors of the rainbow and more here. You’ll discover classic images connected with a color, verbal expressions related to the color, and synonyms or the many words used to describe colors in the same family.

Red

Blue

Yellow

Orange

Green

Indigo

Violet

Brown

White

Gray

Black

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.


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