Your photo editor likely offers a collection of special effects that play with the colors in an image. You can buy additional, third-party collections from companies such as the previously mentioned nik multimedia.
As a rule, I'm not fond of special effects, because they detract too much from the subject of the picture. But effects can be helpful for rescuing a problem image. If you have a slightly blurry or noisy photo, for example, applying a filter that produces the look of a watercolor painting or pencil sketch can hide the defect.
Because the focus of this book is photography, not photo manipulation, I don't want to spend much space discussing software effects. The filters typically are easy to use, anyway—you just choose a filter from an effects menu or palette and then let the program do its thing. In some cases, you may be offered a few controls for adjusting the effect.
I want to share with you a few color-effect tricks that may not be immediately obvious, however:
• To add a sepia tint to your photo, create a new image layer and set the layer blending mode to Color. Fill the new layer with the sepia color you want to apply. In Photoshop Elements, you can also simply select the Colorize check box in the Hue/Saturation dialog box (featured in Figure 8.6, earlier in this chapter) and drag the Hue slider to adjust the tint color.
• Another fun color play is to use the Gradient Map command, discussed in the How-To section "Create Custom Grayscale Conversions in Photoshop Elements," but set the foreground and background colors to something other than black and white. In Photoshop Elements, if you apply the change as an adjustment layer, you can play with different layer blending modes to alter the effect.
• To give your picture a hand-tinted look, first do your color-to-gray conversion as explained earlier, leaving the gray image in the RGB color mode. Create a new, empty image layer, again setting the blend mode to Color, and use a paint tool to dab color on the scene. Adjust the layer or paint opacity to control color intensity.
• If your photo editor's Saturation filter allows you to adjust individual color ranges, experiment with desaturating all color ranges except one or two. For example, keep the blues and cyans but turn everything else to gray.
• Finally, here's a color effect that involves no computer at all: Just use a slow shutter speed and move your camera slightly during the exposure. The result is a Monet-like image like the one that decorates the cover page of the color insert. To create this image, which features the flowers shown on Page 13 of the insert, I positioned the camera lens a few inches above the flowers and set the shutter speed to 2 seconds.
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