Hey, guys! It’s Arielle, and I’m back with more tips and tricks on how to elevate your photos using (my fave) A Color Story. Today I’ll be touching on how I edit my photos on a regular basis and how to achieve rich, dramatic tones. I’ve been editing this way since iPhone editing apps came out, but since ACS was born, I’ve had much more flexibility with my options.
As with all photos, great light is key when it comes to your end result. For these particular kinds of edits, I encourage shooting in the early morning or during golden hour for deeper tones. Experiment with different times of day and remember shade is always on your side too!
For a jumping off point, my top three filters lately for deep tones are: Magic Hour from Good Vibes (how appropriate, am I right?!), Deep from Deep, and Patina from Deep. These three are going to automatically give off darker shadows and a natural contrast while maintaining true color. As a side note, I always apply my filter(s) first before any adjusting. This will pave the way for you to make it your own with the tools at hand moving forward. Let’s get into it!
I’ll never forget in Photoshop class before editing apps existed, I was instructed to edit in “onsies and twosies”, meaning watch closely and adjust little by little to start. This goes for any change you make: filters, contrast, saturation, curves, etc. For example, with every image I edit, I rarely go 100% intensity on any given filter. I think this gives off more of a custom look and will allow for more control as you make changes to the photo. For this example, I applied the Magic Hour filter at 10%, and then continued to add contrast, saturation, yellow, and purple tint at 10% over and over. Always feel free to keep reapplying any given tool if you feel like you want more of something. I finished this edit off with the coral color fog at the top of the image.
2. Contrast is key
Shifting contrast slightly at the beginning of any photo is a great adjustment to start with (after your filter) because it’s the main tool for achieving this particular look. Essentially, you’re upping the highlights and darkening the shadows. From there, you can see what the photo needs. Depending on the edit, I’ll go in with contrast as a final step as well just to deepen everything a bit more. The example above only has one filter applied (Candy Girl at 70%), and the contrast was bumped up by 30%.
I am truly obsessed with these tools! One reason being, it’s so customizable to virtually any photo. When it comes to reds, greens, and blues, you get to choose which color you want a little bit less or more of. Here’s an example of shifting midtone and shadow colors with blues and greens. This image has no filter, a tiny bit of contrast, and I bumped up the green midtone and shadow by about 50%. The other image has the same steps applied but using blues instead. This can dramatically change the look of the photo with just a couple quick steps.
Do not fear the saturation tool! I still start off little by little with this as well, but once I discover what colors I’m going for, I’ll add 200% to some images.
It truly depends on the shot itself, but once you start playing around, it can be so much fun to see what it can do. The only thing I would watch out for on this is skin tone. Keep it simple if so! For this photo example, I’m using a darker photo to show you how much color you can pull from using 100% saturation. This image started out with contrast at 50%, then the yellow temperature brought up by 30%, and then saturation at full intensity.
5. Remember: Nothing is off limits!
Digital art is so unique and there’s nothing you can’t do. With the slightest shift of the yellow tint tool, you can warm up the mood of your photo or bump up the red midtones on a blue sky and watch it turn pink. The filters can inspire tones and set the stage for your style of editing. Every tool is there for a reason, so experiment away!
Thanks for taking the time to peek into my ACS techniques! I can’t wait to see what you create. –Arielle
Credits // Author and Photography: Arielle Vey