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How To Perform Selective Color Photography Editing

Wondering how to use selective color editing during post-processing? Read our latest guide to find out how to bring the colors in your photos to life.

Selective Color Photography Process

The weather in Michigan has finally switched seasons. Instead of heading into Spring, we’ve completely skipped into summer with 80-degree sunny days. I’ve been spending my time outside with my laptop on the patio in my backyard.

With the weather change the flowers in the backyard are finally in bloom, with some red tulips growing a few feet away. After reading this week’s photo challenge I decided that those tulips would be perfect to shoot!

One of the problems I came across was trying to shoot at a good angle; there’s another plant growing right behind and above the tulips, limiting the angles that I can shoot at. I managed to use vertical leading lines to a decent effect to place more emphasis on the tulips.

Photo challenge 2018: selective color photography editing original photoPhoto challenge 2018: selective color photography editing original photo
Here’s the original photo before performing any edits in Adobe Lightroom.

I broke out the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens that I purchased for week 8’s photo challenge, but the shots didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. Because I’m not able to adjust the F-stop on that lens, every photo turned out dark and a little blurry, so I switched to my 50mm prime lens instead.

The rule of thirds is important for the composition and I tried to adhere to it as much as possible. I’m relatively happy with how it turned out raw and unedited, but it was necessary to adjust the color selection to fall in line with the photo challenge for this week.

Selective color photography editing

Instead of showing you a side-by-side image to showcase the editing work that I performed, I decided to download OBS Studio and record the edits as a video that I made so you can see exactly what I did to my photo! I want to do this for future photo challenges, so let me know if this is something that you would be more interested in seeing compared to what I was doing before.

Oddly enough I played with the concept of selective color editing in a previous photography challenge, although it was a completely different aesthetic.

With selective color photo editing it’s necessary to go down to your HSL tab via the detail panel in Adobe Lightroom (hue, saturation and luminance) and reduce your saturation so your image is grayscale or black & white.

After adjusting the saturation, there’s a button that you can click that allows you to increase the saturation based on the colors represented in a specific portion of your object. All you do is hover your mouse over that part of the image and either use your mouse scroll or left-click and drag your mouse up and down to raise or lower the saturation for the selective color.

For this photo there were reds and oranges in the tulips. While I wanted the reds, I didn’t want the oranges, so I manually set the orange saturation back down to -100. I also increased the yellows and greens, but this is problematic because it adjusts that saturation in the entire photo, not just the main subject.

To fix this, all you do is click on your adjustment brush tool, reduce the saturation selection in that brush tool to -100 and make sure that no color fill is selected. Then you change the radius of your brush tool and perform some touch up work to get rid of any unwanted colors in the background layer!

Photo challenge 2018: selective color photography editing original photo
As is tradition, here’s the before and after editing I performed. It’s really subtle, but the background is more subdued after removing some of the color saturation from the photo.

I didn’t show every little touch up that I performed in the photo, but it took me about ten minutes total to completely edit my photo for the selective coloring effect.