Change the Color, Change the Mood


I photographed these ibises (I think that's what  they are) on a cold morning in Chincoteague, Virginia. The empty sky was a great backdrop for the silhouettes of the birds. And the timing worked out well with good separation among the birds with minimal overlapping. A little cropping, a bit of retouching and I was in good shape. Another significant element of the image is the color. However, the color you see here was nowhere to be seen in the original scene. So let me take you back and show you what happened.

Hilz_111118_7679 - Version 2

The second image is what I had before any significant color or tone adjustments. You can see the sky looks pretty blah color-wise. Not to worry! One of the things I always remember is that if you have colors that are washed out (but not blown out) you can darken them to make the color stronger and more attractive.

Hilz_111118_7679 (1)

After only making adjustments to tone we now have a better backdrop for the birds. This darker backdrop is more fitting for the muted look of a pre-sunrise sky. Definitely a significant improvement, but I wasn't enthusiastic about the color scheme. I began to play with the white balance and cranked the Temperature way up. This warmed up the entire image turning the sky from blue to yellow. While this produced the effect I was looking for, be aware that such a significant change to white balance could create problems in other images. Adjusting the overall white balance will shift the color balance for everything in the photo - so for some images you may need to selectively apply a white balance adjustment to achieve the desired effect. In this image everything besides the sky is a silhouette to I didn't have to worry about unwanted color shifts.