In nature, light creates the colour; in the picture, colour creates lightHans Hoffman
Lisa has set an unusual challenge for this week’s Bird Weekly, the selective colour editing of photos. It’s one that really attracted me to have a go. I love fiddling with my photos, as regular readers will know (I call it editing but really it’s quite often just fiddling!) So the idea of removing much of the colour in an image to leave just a splash appealed to me.
I’ve used phone apps to do this in the past, but they can be a bit of a blunt tool. So I was happy to find that Lisa’s detailed instructions for creating this effect in Photoshop also worked for my own Photoshop Elements software. Thanks Lisa!
For some of my photos I picked out just one small feature, like this Little Bee-eater in Senegal.
And this White-crowned Plover by the Chobe River in Botswana (who also featured in my Reflecting on Birds post where he looked a little different thanks to another bit of fiddling/editing!)
For others I chose to colour the whole bird, leaving the background black and white, like this Village Weaver, also in Senegal, and the other version of my Little Bee-eaters, featured above.
One thing this exercise did, is made me look more closely at the individual colours of each bird. For instance, I’d always been so taken by the striking pink and turquoise of my favourite Lilac Breasted Roller that I hadn’t appreciated the darker sheens or his wings, nor realised that he had yellow feet.
With this Fish Eagle in Chobe National Park I experimented with setting the eraser to 50% opacity to blend the colour on his wings into the black and white. I rather liked that effect.
This is quite a small gallery, as creating this selective colour effect is time-consuming. Ultimately I found myself wondering whether I really liked it when applied to birds in this way. Colourful birds are meant to be just that, colourful; while less colourful birds wouldn’t really suit this technique. It would also be a lot easier to do this on subjects that have a defined edge; something that wasn’t so … well, so feathery!
I’m really glad to have learned the technique and practiced it for Bird Weekly. But I think in future I’ll experiment with it on other subjects. Perhaps it would be good for architecture and street scenes? Views welcome, pro and con!