The Art Of Selecting Color In Photography

Selective color is a well known post-processing technique where most of the photo is converted black and white, but with some areas of the photo left in color. The purpose of this technique is to highlight the selective area of the photo to draw more attention to the highlighted subject. Normally this technique is achieved through various photo editing softwares such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lighroom. For my photos, I used Lightroom because in my opinion it’s 10x easier and manages to capture the highlighted subject in color. For my Digital Photography class, we were given the extra credit assignment to submit some photographs using selective color. While, I think my photos could of been better, I feel like I was still able to achieve the main goal I set while editing the photos and the project itself.

This photo us known as “Toy Truck”

Each photo, I wanted to kind of experiment and see how they worked when using selective color. For my photos, I addicted them in Adobe Lightroom using one of the effects included in the software. What I learned was that using this method while it achieved what I wanted, had a few hiccups along the way. The setting in Lightroom selects what gets highlighted in color giving you less control. Another issue is that some parts of the photo you don’t want to be selected end up getting selected in color. In Photoshop, you can select the color using the select tool to pick what is colored. Either programs work fine though. For the photo above, I increased the saturation to make the selective color pop out more. The original photo was not as bright and was rather dull hence why I felt the need to increase the saturation. Everyone in my class said this looked like a “toy truck” hence the name of the photo. I think the reason for this being the brightness in colors can be attributed to the bright color schemes on little toy trucks you buy in the store. Either way, I felt I successfully achieved what I wanted to in the photo as it felt like something different.

Some of the photos I played with came out looking pretty unique which made me happy with the results. The only one that kind of didn’t work was the one I did with the pumpkins. As you can see in the photo above, the pumpkins indeed stick out but that’s due to me increasing the saturation and brightness of the photo. Various items in the background are still in color so while this photo did come out looking sharp, I don’t think the selected color aspect really worked for this one.

For the last photo, I decided to do selective color of an ice cream sign which kinda worked? I feel like this photo worked overall better than the pumpkin one as the main subject is the only thing in color. Overall the colors are pretty vibrant and the background remains fully in black & white so I believe the selective color aspect was pretty successful, I feel like the main subject is just kind of boring. The one thing I thought was kind of cool was the neon lights ended up getting selected which was not intentional. Sometimes unexpected things can add a unique element to the photo narrative. It depends on person taste though. Another thing I’ve noticed about selective color is that the key to a successful photo in selective color is that the main subject is appealing. For example, a picture of a colorful hot air balloon might look more appealing being in selective color than let’s say a random sign on a billboard. Some subjects are made to be outlined in color and some just aren’t. Overall, selective color can be a really useful tool that can add a special element to your photos however it has to have the right subject and a right amount of color to stand out. Either way, it’s something that is fun to dive into and explore in the art of photography.

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