Taking a Trip Back to Selective Color

b/c I ran across a Flickr group tonight dedicated to selective color after running across some rather oddly selective colored pictures.   I warn selective color haters never to venture there.  You.will.have.a.stroke.

Suddenly I understand selective color hate much much better.  I can’t say I’ve ever been bombarded with 12k pictures worth of selective coloring.  Definitely not 12k pictures worth where 90% of them have offended my sensibilities.

I still like the very small handful of selective colors I have done.  They account for such an itty bitty percentage of things I have ever done.  But when I see hundreds and thousands of images exploding in my face of the most randomly done selective coloring, I feel a bit *headdesky*  People really will attempt to selective color ANYTHING.  And then the shot, even if it is a gorgeous shot, becomes “why the hell did you choose to add color to THAT?”

My thoughts on making selective color that works:

*It needs to be the focal point of the image, don’t go selectively coloring something that’s far off in the background and off what you want the person looking at the image to focus on.  Your picture will absolutely no flow.

*Likewise that selectively colored focal point cannot be too large, because it leaves that feeling of “why is the rest of the pic in black & white?”

*Selectively coloring eyes only does not work. This includes animal eyes.

*Neither does selectively coloring only people in a scene.

*Selectively coloring clothes generally looks pretty odd too.

*Your composition really needs to be pretty tight for selective coloring to stand a chance.

*Don’t just selective color the sky.  Or the water.  Or the grass.  Just don’t.

*Don’t use selective coloring in posed family portraits.  Again, just don’t.

*Realize that whatever you selective color WILL BE THE FOCAL POINT OF THE IMAGE.

*If you’re selective coloring even 1 image out of every single shoot that you do, you have problems lol

*Do it all or none at all.  Selective coloring 1 flower out a bouquet generally looks weird.  So does one orange out of a bowl of them.  So on and so forth.

*Some images could be saved and suffice with selective coloring if people realize they could mute their colors a bit.  Back when was in high school and did actual darkroom stuff with chemicals and enlargers we did selective coloring even back then with special paints.  The effect was very muted.  If people have black & white images with a lot of grey tones, muted selective colors generally look better.  The more bold blacks and crisp whites you have, the better brighter colors look with it.

*Pick a color and stick with it.  Selective color red things?  Don’t throw a random ass blue one in there.

*Less is always more.

*If your image isn’t interesting when you’re not using it in it, you just made it worse by using it.  Like 100x worse.

*Don’t ruin a great image by deciding you need to selective color it.

*Realize that 98% of images, selective coloring is gonna look dumb in.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. August Linnman
    Sep 16, 2012 @ 09:53:13

    Hi there! As a hobbyist photographer who has started experimenting with selective coloring I find your text very refreshing. The “tacky” aspects of the technique really causes you to put your esthetical mind at high alert. But I find the saturation part of photography more and more interesting, and the “less is more”-approach can be used in many subtle and yet very powerful ways. (Such as using large saturation brushes with large feathers in Lightroom to add attention to the main focus subject).


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