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Lee Varis’ 10-Channel Workflow – part-2

Picking up where we left off in part-1…

The new color version has a darker sky and lighter foreground.

Now lets look at enhancing the color saturation. Of course this could be done with a Hue/Saturation adjustment, but we will do this another way to gain access to the channels of the Lab version of this image. Duplicate the document (Image-> Duplicate…) check the Merged Layers checkbox & rename with Lab…

Duplicate Image
Duplicate the image…

Convert this duplicate to Lab…

Image-> Mode-> Lab Color
Image-> Mode-> Lab Color

Now we will use a little trick to boost the saturation. First apply a Curves adjustment layer, but don’t make any changes to the curve. Then change the layer blend mode to Overlay…

Overlay blend
Change the layer blend mode to Overlay…
Hyper contrast & color from the Overlay blend…

Having the image in Lab gives us a unique way to achieve hyper color saturation without added tonal contrast – we use advanced blending options…

Blending Options
Select Blending Options from the Layer options flyaway menu…
Advanced Blending Options
Uncheck the “L” channel to remove the contrast effect of the Overlay Blend…

The result leaves only the extra saturation from the a & b channels…

Super saturated color without the extra contrast…

Right now, its way too saturated, so we will blend out some of the saturation using the Blend If area at the bottom of the Blending Options dialog. Pulling the black and white sliders in to the center of the b channel gradient, has the effect of removing the saturation from blue and yellow colors – split the little triangle sliders by option/alt – dragging them apart. Setting the sliders as shown will bring in just enough extra saturation…

Blend If sliders
The Blend if sliders can be used to control the saturation…

It is way too easy to push the saturation beyond the limits of human vision in Lab so it can be very helpful to use the gamut warning under the View menu while you are adjusting the saturation. Go to the view menu. By default the Proof Setup is at Working CMYK – this is perfect for our our needs so just check to make sure its set there, and then turn on the Gamut Warning by checking it…

Gamut Warning
Use the gamut Warning while you are adjusting the saturation to make sure you don’t end up with a blue sky that is too saturated!
Gamut Warning Image
Adjust the saturation until the flat gray color goes away from the areas of interest…
Saturation Just Right
Now the overall saturation is where we want it…

Now I’d like to shift the green in the foreground bushes towards a cooler, more Kelly green color. This is easy to do with a targeted Hue/Saturation adjustment layer…

Hue/Saturation Adjustment
Change the target colors from Master to Greens and click in the image with the left most eyedropper that appears. the dark gray area in the bottom gradient will move to center over the targeted color.

Here I’ve shifted the hue to the right towards green, away from yellow just a bit to liven up the color of the green bushes. You can leave the Gamut Warning on just to make sure you don’t shift the colors into something too extreme, but certainly after you’re done, you can turn it off.

At this point you can flatten the Lab duplicate. Then, very important, hold down the shift key, use the move tool to drag from inside the Lab file over to the Tab for the original RGB file, wait until the window comes forward, and drag down into the window – let go of the Mouse! The color enhanced lab version will convert to RGB and drop onto the layers in perfect registration. If not, try it again – it can take a bit of coordination, but once you get the hang of it its easy.

Color Enhanced
Latest color enhanced version.

At this point I usually change the layer blend mode to color, as this leaves open the possibility to change the contrast with the underlying channel mixer or some other adjustment without distorting the color. So, we have the Lab color (even though its now in RGB) sitting on top of the other two layers in color mode…

Color Mode
Color Mode

The next step in the workflow is where it gets very interesting—we are going to blend the “b” channel into the RGB image as a “Overlay” layer—stay tuned for the final installment of the 10-Channel Workflow in part-3


Special Note:

For those of you who may be impatient for the rest of the workflow, and you are intrigued enough to dig into a more detailed examination, I have a new online course: The 10-Channel Workflow – a comprehensive guide with 9 step-by-step projects with detailed video instruction, including downloadable work files for only $40

Enroll Now


Stay Tuned for Part-3…

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