For this week’s challenge, we’ll experiment with one of my favorite photographic effects: Selective Color. (Also known as Selective Desaturation.) With this effect, most everything in the photo appears black and white except for specific area(s), which instead appear bright and colorful. Naturally, your eye is immediately drawn to the colorful area, helping grab the viewer’s attention.
There are a few benefits to a Selective Color image: Most notably, it helps your subject to stand out against the surroundings. This is particularly helpful if your subject is within a visually “busy” area. Similarly, it can help to highlight what the intended subject of the photo is. And, of course, it can help create a very dramatic, interesting look.
As always, let’s look at some examples:
In this example, I was trying to use motion panning to capture a car as it went down the street. While I was reasonably happy with the bright red car as the subject, it didn’t stand out very well from the (somewhat busy) background. As such, I reduced the color saturation of everything except the red car. After this change, the brightly colored main subject stands out clearly against the otherwise gray background.
Using Selective Color is a great way to highlight the subject of a particular image. In the above example, the trolley car is a very small portion of the overall image, tucked towards the background. If this were an all-color or all black and white image, it might not be so clear what the subject was. However, because only part of the image is in color (and also because of the great leading lines), it’s clear that the trolley car is the main subject.
Here is another wonderful example of selective color: By having the young woman appear in full, bold color, she stands out beautifully against the otherwise black and white scene. Your eye is immediately drawn to her, making it clear that she is the main subject of the photo.
I particularly love this image: Your eye is immediately drawn to the colored fabric, even though it’s surrounded by several other interesting patterns. What’s most interesting to me is that this selective color was not done using image processing– instead, the fabrics themselves are actually colored this way. You might call this a “Real World” Selective Color.
For this week’s challenge, you should take a photo that shows the Selective Color effect. You may achieve this effect however you prefer: You can use your photo editing software to selectively color certain areas, or you can photograph a scene that already gives the same effect.
Creative, out-of-the-box ideas are always allowed and encouraged. Get your camera, be creative, and have fun!
Tips and Suggestions
Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Here’s a great Selective Color tutorial using Adobe Lightroom. Even if you don’t have Lightroom, I suggest watching this tutorial, as it shows some great techniques.
- Here’s a another tutorial using Snapseed, on either iPhone or Android
- As mentioned previously, you don’t necessarily need to use any image processing: You are welcome to find a real world scene that gives the same Selective Color effect. (For example, a bright red barn in an otherwise gray landscape, etc.)
- As always, if you get stuck or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask other members of the group… we’re all here to help!
The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:
- Post one original photograph to our active community on our Facebook Group, Flickr Group or 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo: #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
- The shot should be a new shot you took this week, for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
- Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.