Toning. Part Two

The Manalsu River. Use the color fill layer to achieve your creative vision
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Your Creative Vision. Toning

The Manalsu River. Quicksilver

I mentioned, in my last blog post, that the last step–toning the image–is a crucial step, and helps you complete the image. This step is essential in helping you achieve the creative vision you have for the image. Also, in my last blog post, I referenced Nik Silver Efex Pro and Joel’s Panel for black & white photography. There are two limitations to using these otherwise excellent tools. Another excellent software in Exposure, and I will come back to this one in a subsequent post.

1. You will use the toning presets available in the photo editing software you are using.

2. Maybe, you don’t own either of them.

Using Color Fill

The desktop. Using the color fill layer

So, now is the time to ask yourself if other options exist. If you ask this question, my answer is ‘yes’. Photoshop offers users a million ways to achieve the result you desire. You can, of course, achieve your creative vision through a million routes. Well, not a million ways, but enough ways exist in which to arrive at the image you want to create.

In this image, I used the color fill layer on the top. Most of the time, you will open the color-fill dialogue box and move the pointer around. This is good, but the process is random. It may not be possible for you to replicate the result.

The Process

I Googled the Hex codes for many colors and copied them into my phone, and on my iPad, as well as the computer. Next, when I toned the image, I experimented with a few color fill options. To make it simple, I list the broad steps below:

1. The first thing to do is to have a broad idea of the overall mood of the image.

1.1. Cool or warm? Choose the tone best suited to your ultimate vision.

1.2. Dark or light? Once you decide this, choose the tone. I wanted a bright, almost airy atmosphere in this image, so I chose the hex code for Quicksilver, as you will see in the image.

1.3. The next step is to choose your blending mode. You must experiment. Unfortunately, there is no other way around it. I used pin light, and when you want to blend some of these strange blend modes like ‘pin light’ and ‘hard light’, using the fill option is better than opacity.

1.4. At this stage, you are done. The image is final, but you can experiment further if you choose. I added a black layer mask, which concealed the blending. Then, I applied a gradient to the mask, to reveal the quicksilver color fill in the center of the image, and hide it at the top and bottom.

Let it Blossom, Let it Flow

To be honest, what you do and how you apply the tools will depend on your own creative vision. Sometimes, I start with a broad theme. I have a general idea of what I want to achieve. Sometimes I experiment like a crazy person while editing an image. Sometimes I finish an image in fifteen minutes. At other times, I return to the image several times over a few days.

Then, at other times when I discard my edit and let something churn in my subconscious for months. Often, my creative vision seems blocked, and at other times, it flows like an unchecked river.

I believe one of Eric Clapton’s songs (Let it Grow, from 461 Ocean Boulevard) has these lyrics:

Let it grow, let it grow
Let it blossom, let it flow
In the sun, the rain, the snow
Love is lovely, let it grow

Eric Clapton

So, let it flow.


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Published by Rajiv

I have been around the block a bit. I've lived in four countries, and in many parts of my country. I have been fortunate enough to meet some really good people, and some really lousy ones, all of whom have taught me much. I am passionate about photography, writing, Indian history and continuing on this grand journey towards death.

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