It was a budding career in media and design that led 25-year-old enthusiast Mihai Vlad to first pick up a digital camera in 2004. The Romanian telecoms engineer has since explored various photographic disciplines before focusing his attentions on portraiture and monochrome techniques. Among his repartee of creative skills is a flair for selective colourisation effects.
‘This particular shot was taken last year in Montblanc, a small Catalan village,’ says Mihai of his image, “Iron Monger”.
‘Montblanc seems to be the origin of Catalunya’s most famous legend – Sant Jordi, celebrated on the 23rd of April.
Every year the village hosts a medieval festival animated by street performers, knight fights and medieval craftsmen.
One of these craftsmen was the iron worker in the picture.
Mihai began with a full-colour RAW image captured using his Canon EOS 300D and Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM lens. Exposure was set to 1/400sec at f/4.5 to provide a balanced tonal range.
‘The coloured picture was opened in Photoshop and three copies of the original layer were made,’ he explains. ‘One of the layers was converted to black and white, using Hue/Saturation. Then I applied a little Smart Sharpen since the focus was on the hammer and the hand was blurry.
‘On the third layer I used the Eraser to crop the red iron. Then I applied some Levels to boost the red colour on the iron.’
*Never work on an original image. Make a copy so you don’t accidentally overwrite your original picture.
*Decide first which image parts would be better left in colour.
*Carry out preliminary edits (such as levels or contrast adjustments) before adding layers and altering saturation.
*When you are happy with the effect you have created, save the file as a .psd file as well as a TIFF or JPEG. The .psd will ensure you can continue to edit each layer when the file is opened. To save a JPEG or TIFF, hit Layers>Flatten Image then save the file with a new name.
*The colours you present in your image do not have to be lifelike. Try creating a black and white layer, selecting an element and then experimenting with the Hue slider of the Hue/Saturation command.
*To prevent harsh edges around coloured areas, alter the Eraser brush tip’s softness settings in the Tool Options bar, moving the setting to below 50%.
*Selective colour has more than strictly artistic uses. This technique can be useful to highlight a particular item or to draw attention away from a cluttered or unattractive background.