WEEK 42: Selective Color

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:

Panning Beetle – Eric Minbiole

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.

Carreira 28 – Alexander.Hüls

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.

Architecture – Windows Looking Out – Stephanie Adams

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.

EBONY AND IVORY – Cindy Jo Bennett Csomo

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.

The Challenge

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 GroupFlickr 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.

About Eric Minbiole

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with anything technical– electronics, computers, cameras, gadgets, etc. Growing up, I loved taking things apart to see what was inside. While I couldn’t always put things back together, I loved trying to figure out how things work. Because of my love for all things technical, I pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, and currently work as a Software Engineer. I’ve been fascinated with photography ever since borrowing my parents 110 film camera when I was young. It’s been a great hobby ever since: I love experimenting with photos, and trying new things. I especially love technical and/or trick photography. (“Gimmicks!”, as my wife jokingly calls them 😉 ) While I’m comfortable with the technical side of how to shoot, I struggle more with the artistic side of what to shoot in the first place. This is one reason I quite enjoy this group: There are fun, interesting ideas each week. I joined PhotoChallenge as a participant in 2014, and am amazed at how much this group has helped me learn. Each week, I look forward to the fun, creative challenges that Steve, Trevor, Gary, and Jeremy put together. Most importantly, the weekly challenges give me the motivation to get out there and take photos each week. (Otherwise, I suspect my camera might be gathering dust on the shelf.) As well, interacting with the fantastic members of the group– discussing suggestions, techniques, what works, what doesn’t– has been an invaluable help. I am absolutely thrilled to join the PhotoChallenge team– I’ve learned so much from the group, and hope that I can give back a little bit. If you’d like to see some of my photos, please check out my flickr page.