Tag: colors

How to take emotional and meaningful self-portraits

In today’s technologically advanced world, selfies exist everywhere. With the desire to take a photo of oneself comes the desire to look visually appealing. Subconsciously, many of us seek to look acceptable because we wish to feel accepted and welcome. I myself can relate to this desire, one that has often turned into an obstacle in my creative endeavors. Though this need, which is often desperate, makes many people feel like outcasts because of their insecurities, it mustn’t be chastised. A need for acceptance through photos of yourself doesn’t mean you should ditch the mirrors in your home, abandon the art of self-portraiture, and never look at yourself again. Rather than neglecting your appearance, embrace it in an honest way, finding inspiration in the things you often avoid thinking about. Self-portraiture, in its rawest form, is both honest and gentle, revealing the photographer’s strengths and weaknesses simultaneously. Here’s are tips on how to add more emotions and depth to your self-portraits:

Understand and embrace yourself

It can be very challenging to pick out an emotion and label it accurately. Instead of trying to chase and organize your feelings, remember a movie that really touched you. The movie may not have directly explained the actors’ troubles or joys, but what it did was present you with scenes which flipped a switch in your heart. Photography, like any meaningful film, possesses a similar kind of power. Use this to your creative advantage. Read books, watch films, and listen to stories. As you do these things, your mind will get filled with fascinating ideas and the knowledge that you’re not alone, no matter strange your emotions might seem to you. Storytelling will give you the necessary confidence to take self-portraits, and the heart of a creature belonging to someone else will fill you with inspiration. Watching an incredible film right before a shoot will be especially helpful, as your inspiration will eagerly wait to be used by you.


Use nature and objects to intensify your emotions

Weather, colors, movements, and light will all help you reflect your emotions better.
Though facial expressions can often speak for themselves, their effect can be enhanced using things in your home or out in nature. Weather, for instance, can be used either as a dramatic contrast or a direct reflection of the emotion you wish to convey. A self-portrait of a dancing silhouette against a daunting, stormy background has the power to express passion, perseverance, or an inner struggle. No matter how moody or sunny it is in your area, use it to your advantage – if the weather doesn’t match your desired mood, challenge yourself by finding ways to use the current conditions to your artistic advantage.

Other elements that can further highlight an emotion are colors, movements, and light. Colors are especially useful in the editing process, where they can be altered even more to perfectly elevate the image’s atmosphere. Movement can be used to express things like haste, impatience, longing, and fear; a portrait of a person looking frightened in a room filled with falling feathers could express the subject’s fear of moving forward in life. To complement all of these elements, light must be used wisely. Experiment with it as much as you can, even on a daily basis – soon enough you’ll naturally understand what kinds of shadows and highlights would look good in a certain composition. Once you befriend light, things like colors and movements will be bonuses, instead of hindrances, in your work.



Find yourself in other people

Oftentimes, the people and things we photograph are a direct reflection of ourselves. The famous portrait photographer Richard Avedon once stated, “Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me.” When we photograph others, we usually capture them in moments we ourselves can relate to. The angles and poses we prefer are often very much our own; even the editing process is a quietly personal one.

Since self-portraiture isn’t all about human faces, take photographs of the people or things you cherish most. If you do want to include yourself in the image, place a mirror next to your subject(s) to get an interesting reflection of yourself. Whatever you do, find details, objects, and colors which speak to you and use them during your shoot. Though the results may not necessarily feature you, they’ll contain the very heart of who you are, and that can certainly be considered a self-portrait.

There are countless ways to take photographs of yourself without prioritizing perfection; photography of all types can be celebrated no matter who or what the subject is. Accepting yourself in spite of your insecurities and worries through art will make you an endlessly empathetic individual. Again, this doesn’t mean that your entire portfolio must consist of very raw photographs; what it means is that when you do feel insecure, dare to embrace it, not conceal it.

Happy shooting!

Using color as a composition element to add mood to your photos

The list of elements that have a role in the composition of your photography is quite long: lines, patterns, symmetry, texture, depth of field, color… yes! Color! Have you ever considered a color like a composition element? If your answer is not, keep reading because I will give you some information that might change the way you approach color in your photography.

Colors and emotions

Colors are generally associated with certain emotions.

Red: Passion, intensity, power, strength and attention

Red roses have always been synonyms of passion and love.

Orange: enthusiasm, joy, optimism, creativity


Yellow: energy, intellect, happiness


The 3 previous colors (red, orange and yellow) are also known as warm colors. They are exciting colors. They give a feeling of high energy.

Green: nature, tranquility, freshness, harmony, fertility


Blue: calmness, peace, responsibility, confidence, trust

This photo is from The International Airport of Korea. The blue tones give a feeling of peacefulness even when the place was quite busy at that time.

Purple: royalty, extravagance, luxury, mystery

You can find purple also in nature.

The 3 previous colors (green, blue and purple) are also known as cold colors. They are considered relaxing colors. They give a feeling of calmness.

Sydney’s Opera Building is completely white, giving a sense of perfection in its shapes.

Black: elegance, formality, power, sexy, mystery

Black cats are considered mysterious animals.

Brown: stability, structure, support

Brown can give to your composition an extra sense of security.

The 3 previous colors (white, black and brown) are also known as neutral colors and they are usually great as backgrounds.

Subjective interpretation of colors

Although there are general interpretations of colors, as individual with different social background and experiences, we perceive them in different ways. I mean, there is a subjective aspect in color interpretation. The feelings a color awakes in you might be different than mines. It is for that reason that we have personal preferences for certain colors. I can give you an example of a personal interpretation of colors. According to the list, purple symbolizes royalty, wisdom, and luxury. For my mom, this color means fear because when she was a little girl she was terrorized for some religious parade in which people was wearing purple clothes. She had a life experience that completely shaped her relation with the purple color to the point that nothing at home was in this color (or any of its shades). You can probably find examples like this one in your own life.

The strong negative connotation that my mom has with the purple colors makes her dislike even the flowers in this color.

Color in your photo composition

In the moment you are composing your photo, you can stop one moment and think if you can include colors that will contribute to your composition. What do you want to say with your photo? Do you want your image to have a general feeling of balance and calmness? Then you might consider to include mostly cold colors such as green and blues and avoid as much as possible elements in warm colors.

The green table and blue cup give a feeling of calm and even a bit of coolness to this coffee. If the cup would have been red and the table orange, things would have had quite a different feeling.

If you want something more energetic, you should consider to include warm colors.

Golden hour is a perfect time to get warm images.

You can also mix warm and cold colors to get a combined feeling of warm and freshness


Change the color mood of your images in Lightroom

You can also play with the color of your photos in post processing using for example Lightroom. To do that, it is better that you shoot your photos in RAW. This photo format will give you more flexibility in the editing for changing colors.

There are different ways you can change the colors of your images. Today I am going to focus on a really straightforward one: playing with the Temperature slider. This technique will help you to get familiar with colors and moods. Once you master this one, you can get into other ways to do it, such as adding color filters or by using the split tone sliders.

You will find the temperature slider in the Develop module, in the Basic adjustments. Moving the slide to the left you decrease the temperature of your colors, meaning that you make them cooler. If you move it to the right, you increase the temperature, adding warm to your photo.

The original color temperature of this image was 4650.


You can get warmer tones by moving the temperature slider to the right. In this particular image, a value of 7119 worked pretty well.


You can get cooler tones by moving the temperature slider to the left.

Deciding which is the right color for your photos is up to you because it depends on what you felt when you were taking the photo and the feelings you want to express.

From up to down: warm, neutral and cold versions.In this photo, I didn’t like the feeling I got with the cold tones because when I took the photo it was warm and I was on a hike with friends, a quite energetic situation. the warm color version of the image express the feelings I had at that moment much better that the cool color version of this image.

Now it is your turn to experiment with colors. Tell me how do you feel about adding color to your photo composition and if you are happy with your new results! Enjoy!

Two Easy Ways to Change Colors in Photoshop

There are many different reasons why you might want to change the color of your photos. Colorizing the whole photo (like giving a sepia tone to a grayscale image) is a rather straightforward process, changing the color of specific parts of an image can be a bit more tricky. However, Photoshop has a couple of tools that can make this process a relatively easy one. One of the things that make Photoshop such a powerful software is that there are many different ways to achieve a final result, and different photographers have different workflows so it is possible that you can find alternative ways to do this, which is perfectly fine.

Apart from simple photographic interest (like changing the color of a model’s clothes to better match a background or enhancing a specific aspect such as the redness of a sunset), colorizing a subject can be very useful for everyday interests such as visualizing how a house, or a part of it, would look like with a different painting before actually even buying a paint bucket.

Take, for instance, the following photo of a house, downloaded from Pexels, a free stock photography website.


Let’s take action and try to change the color of the door. What allows us to actually change the color of objects without having to worry about each individual pixel is the description of a color not in terms of the RGB channels (the amount of red, green and blue) but in terms of HSI (hue, saturation and intensity). By changing these three factors of a given color, all the Photoshop Textures of the surface we are colorizing will remain intact.

Adjustment layer

The first method I want to show you here is the use of the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Start by duplicating your base layer to make sure that you always have your original image untouched. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+J (in Windows) or by going to the ‘Layer’ menu and clicking on ‘Duplicate Layer…’. Then create the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer by using the menu at the bottom of the Layers panel or by going to ‘Layer’ -> ‘New Adjustment Layer’ -> ‘Hue/Saturation…’.


The next step is to select the color you want to change. While to door is clearly green, by simply selecting the green color in the dropdown menu of the Hue/Saturation panel will do a decent job, but not perfect. This is because the range of colors that Photoshop calls green does not cover the whole range of our photo due to the shadows and differences in lighting. To fix this, use the eyedropper tool with the plus sign located at the bottom of the panel and click at different areas of the door, specially at the corners, where the shadows make the green look darker.


After doing this, if you move the ‘Hue’ slider, you will see how the color of both the door and the window change. You will see that the overall result is quite good, although not perfect. The following image is obtained after increasing the hue to +71.


First of all, some things that we did not want to change actually changed, most notably the window, but also the rock border at the bottom of the house. This is because while selecting the color in the Hue/Saturation panel we also selected colors contained in these two parts of our image (this is quite obvious for the window, but not so for the border). Fixing this is quite simple: you just need to paint with a black brush over those areas in the layer mask (white canvas on the right hand side of the Hue/Saturation layer) that is automatically created with the adjustment layer.

The other problem is on the dark areas of the door, mostly on the top and the bottom right corners and the unevenness of the paint in general. You can almost see the green paint below the blue one. To correct this can become quite complicated and involve a lot of work at a small scale. In general, the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer is a great choice when you have either a relatively flat surface or when you have large variations in contrast that you actually want to keep, like for instance when coloring hair.

Color Replacement Tool

For our case, the second option I want to present here makes it possible to get clean result without having to make too many small adjustments. The ‘Color Replacement Tool’ is located together with the ‘Brush Tool’ on the left-hand panel. This tool allows you to sample a color in your photo with a given tolerance and replace it by a pre-selected color, once again preserving the shadows and structure of the area you want to colorize. You can either select the color from the color palette of Photoshop, or hold the alt key with the tool selected and click in any area of your image (or some other image).

The cursor will be now a circle (similar to the brush tool one) but with a small mark at the center. Wherever the mark is, that specific color will be replaced with our pre-selected color, covering all the area marked by the circle surrounding it. This means that if we select a rather large circle, we can put the cursor over any part of the green door without even being careful for the circle not to go outside the door, since Photoshop will make sure that the only colors replaced are those that fall within the color we want to change plus a given tolerance that can be selected by the user.


Notice how, even when selecting a large radius (1170 px) and tolerance (80%), Photoshop is able to cleanly select the pixels that do correspond to the door. While painting over the handle, it makes sense to lower the tolerance a bit and, of course, if you are dealing with a low contrast image (our original image has a high color contrast, which makes the whole process much easier!) you will have to play a bit with this value while going through different areas.

If you look closely, some white areas on the top of the door are also painted in blue. This can be improved, once again, by changing the tolerance or by simply masking out the effect by creating a layer mask and painting over the affected areas with a small brush. The final result after using the color replacement tool over the whole door is shown below.


As you can see, the result is consistent over the shadowed areas as well and in general is much flatter than when using the Hue/Saturation method, something that was desired in this case, although not always. As I mentioned earlier, if you are trying to change the color of areas with a lot of contrast that you want to keep in the end (like for instance hair), the Hue/Saturation method will work better, so whatever your situation is, give both methods a try to find the one that suits you best!

Do you want to know how to resize an image in photoshop?