We’ve all seen those photos. You know the ones. They contain essentially an entirely black and white image with the exception of a small amount of color showing through like a beacon of beautiful light. This is called a spot color effect. And while it may seem like something that might be highly complex, that doesn’t have to be the reality in many instances.
Here I will explore two methods to create stunning spot color shots. One for beginners and those with a less demanding color need and the other for more advanced users or ones willing to be a bit adventurous.
Quick saturation adjust
To use this method for spot color, use your editing tool to find the saturation controls. In Photoshop, they are under the IMAGE TAB > ADJUSTMENTS > HUE>SATURATION select the MASTER option and adjust the individual colors to the left on the slider to remove them. This works great for all colors except variations of red being that red is what makes up most of a person’s skin tone and you can’t keep it if you want the body to be in black and white. Other programs should have similar tools.
Layer and erase
So, if you have any variation of red you want to keep in the shot or want to be a little more picky about the specific locations in the shot that you want to keep in full color, you can start by creating a new layer on top of the original. Then, go to the aforementioned HUE/SATURATION tool while on the top layer and drag it all the way left to remove all color. Next, get your eraser tool and simply go along the areas you want to show through in color. This is harder and more time consuming because you have to be more precise. This can be done is pretty much any decent photo editing program as well.
Give it a shot for yourself, I bet you’ll like the results.
Ask us about the site Image Aids to access great video tutorials on topics like this and more.
When I shoot with models…
I love to work with all sorts of looks. One of which, if you’re even a casual reader of this blog you probably know, is alternative models. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, that commonly includes women featuring body art and subculture styles.
Another really cool style is the classic pin up look that came out of support for U.S. troops during the wars and battles of the mid-20th century.
So, why not combine both for an amazing model photo session?
The photos below are from a recent shoot with the stunning Brittany Jordan. They were taken at my studio location in Pittsburgh and I hope you enjoy them.
This one makes use of a cool, classic vibe with the retro bar stool and the black and white coloration.
This one uses a spot color effect on her vibrant hair mixed with a classic pin up pose to have an almost Andy Warhol like quality.
Moving away from the pin up look for this one, it has sort of a sexy / naughty teacher theme if you will.
The spot color effect with a pose that accentuates the models chest makes for a fun, flirty photograph.
Last but not least, this one lends a little edge to the model’s look with the cigarette and the black fedora.
As a photographer, I know that a lot of people are looking for ways to bring out the color in their shots to make their digital photos pop. Here are a few tips along with sample shots.
Making color pop
1. Make use of the saturation effect
– Use your photo editing software’s saturation tools to increase the saturation for more vivid colors. Be careful not to go overboard though.
2. Utilize the dodge/burn tool
– Most likely, your chosen editing software will allow you to either burn (darken) or dodge (lighten) specific areas of your photo. This can really help with bringing out the color in skies and nature scenes as well as washed out clothing or body art.
3. Go with a spot color effect
– Here, you take out the color in a photo and essentially make it black and white with the exception of the area in which you want to showcase a specific color. This takes a little work but is well worth it. My e-book “Making Beauty Photography” has a deluxe edition with links to video tutorial on several of these techniques.