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  • Writer's pictureAna Lyz

The Power of Color

Recently I found Peter McKinnon's Youtube Channel. I watched his video titled DON'T BE THIS GUY editing your photos with Lightroom 🤮 and I have to say, I felt like my eyes were opened for the first time.

He basically was talking about this new look that he's been playing around with while editing his pictures. He was using this technique of desaturating, as opposed to what's typically sought for on Instagram. (Here's a reel expressing exactly what I'm talking about).

Now, I know I haven't been a photographer for as long as these people have been. But I do think that I've been doing too much of the same thing for a while. I've never taken a photography course, and while some of my film courses did talk about composition and everything within that realm, this is still a very big field that has a lot to unpack.

As a fan of deep contrasting images, bold colors and cool shadows, I'm starting to get a bit bored by it. Not to mention that this is something that's become pretty standard for creators across the globe. I guess I haven't really taken the time to solidify my style when it comes to photography. I am still experimenting with different niches (street, nature, portrait) and each one of these can call for its own style. Peter McKinnon was leaning more towards shifting the greens to a more desaturated yellow, and I decided to put that into practice with some of my recent pictures and I've been having a lot of fun.

Today, I finally set some time to work on one of my favorite pictures. I captured this bird while visiting Governor's Island and I was very tempted to leave this picture untouched because it was such a special moment.

Blue bird sitting still on a stick.
I still love the picture as is, but I knew it was calling for more to make it more engaging.

Below, you'll see that I did struggle to stick to one mood. Shifting the colors made such a difference. My goal was to preserve the bird's natural blue hue, but to also make it stand out.

Each one of these has a different mood, maybe even a different story.

In the first edit, I was more focused on the green slider. I shifted its hue to be more yellow and I'm pretty sure I desaturated it as well. Once I did that, I worked with the yellow slider and shifted the hue to be more orange. I also put some overall cast to it so that it would be warmer. While I liked the contrast between the orange and blue, it simply didn't fit with the original style. This was taken in the summer, on a very sunny day. These warm colors almost make it seem like fall, it was a bit too dreamy and fantasy-like for me.

The second edit is very similar, with the only difference being that I did not modify the yellow slider. This was also okay, but I was just bothered by the color reflected off of the bird's belly. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't like how it was adding too much color to it. I really just wanted the blue to be the center of attention in this shot. Plus, the background was straying away from its original color.

Following this strong urge of making the blue pop, I just went ahead and desaturated both greens and yellows. I saved this picture because I liked it, but I did not want the viewer to notice the edits. I wanted this to look natural. The key to making this work is to be subtle. Less is more.

Finally, I just did my best to find the perfect balance between the greens and yellows. To make it dreamy, but not placed in the wrong season (like the first edit). To make the blue stand out without it being too fake (like the third one). I think this is a pretty good choice. It helps lead the viewer to focus on the details I want.

Of course, cropping is also a big component when it comes to guiding the viewers across your picture. But color can truly make a difference. It adds on to the mood, the story, and it can make or break an image's composition.

This is an ongoing learning process and it is a fun one to navigate. I hope you found this to be interesting and maybe something you could apply to your work too.

Are there any tips you have when experimenting with colors? What would make you want to stop to really look at a picture instead of just mindlessly liking it while scrolling? Have you found your editing style?

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