Colorize a black and white photo in GIMP

This is a quick tutorial on how to use GIMP for colorizing a black and white photograph. The technique is described in general instead of in detail since each photograph will be unique in its own composition. The photograph I used is of Albert Einstein (and I borrowed the photo from this site) and this is one of my favorite photo of him since there is something beautiful over the playfulness in his smile.

The same technique can be used for Adobe Photoshop or other software as well and the method we are using are similar to what we did earlier when we exchanged a selected color in an image.

Let us begin!

  1. Start off with a black and white photo. The wider spectrum of grey tones and the more dynamic the photo is, the better the end result will be.
    Black and white photo loaded in GIMP
  2. Create a new layer
    New layer
  3. Select the brush tool and with the new layer selected, paint with a warm orange color over all parts of the portrait where you want skin.

    Advanced:You can start of by a large brush and go into more details using the eraser afterwards.

    A mask is created for where the skin in the portrait is

  4. When you have painted parts of the photo where there is visible skin, with the selected layer in the Layers toolbox, change the blending type to multiply. Using the transparency of the slider you can adjust the strength of the color.
    Colored layer is set to Blending type 'Multiply'
  5. Do the same for the other parts of the image you want colorized, adding a new layer for each new color. Set each layer to blending type, Multiply when finished.
    Repeat the proces
  6. When all parts have been colorized, right click on any of the layers in the Layers toolbox and select Flatten image.

    Advanced:Using Color adjust, you can set the overall color to meet your goal or to tweak the full color range. It can also be used to ting the part of the photo which was not colored into a warmer or colder tone.

  7. Done.

How to take a long exposure photograph

When we are to take a photograph of a flowing waterfall, the waves of grass on a field or perhaps the dreamy slow flow of a small creek it is easy to end up with an image where all seem frozen. The feeling of the location that was so clear at the site disappear completely when the photo has frozen the motions that was visible. How to counter this to bring a photo back in which we can save the feeling and the look of what we actually saw?

The reason is that cameras often in automatic modes use a short exposure give us a sharp image where motion often is reduced or removed all together. By instead increasing the exposure time we can bring back the motion into these images and end up with a photo which includes what we tried to remember. A night at the beach by a concrete pier can end up with a photo as below.

Nikon D80, Nikon 18-200 VRII @ 28mm, f/25, ISO 100, 18 seconds

 

Since we will be open up the sensor for quite some time a tripod or something to hold your camera in place is a must. Also, if you are out in daylight or in a setting which is already lit a neutral density filter can prove to be much helpful.

Long exposure photography, a quick guide

  1. Command dialTurn the mode dial of your camera to manual mode. The manual mode is often shown as an ‘M’ on the dial on your D-SLR where you can also find modes for aperture priority, shutter priority or the preset modes. Also place the camera body steady using a tripod or similar, all to reduce the shake which will cause blur when we are using longer exposures (lower shutter speed).
  2. Lower your ISO to the lowest possible setting, often between 80 and 200 depending on your camera. Since the ISO is a measurement of the sensitivity of the sensor in the camera a low value will require more light to enter the camera to sow up in the photo.
  3. Reduce the aperture to the lowest setting you can use, often about f/22 but can go even higher depending on your lens. The aperture is how big or small the opening or iris is in the lens to let through light into the camera. Beware however that on very small apertures the quality of the photo might be reduced.
  4. If you have neutral density filters, apply these to your lens. The neutral density filter is a filter which goes on your lens which then reduce the amount of light which can pass through the lens into the sensor of your camera. By doing this you can open the shutter for a longer time without getting to much light into the camera and by that, get an overexposed image.
  5. Set an exposure time between two and thirty seconds. The exact amount of time you need to open the shutter is depending on the light conditions you are in. If you are taking photos at dawn the light will change for every minute that pass so you can’t even use the same value for two photos to get the same result! Simply start with a value of a couple of seconds to see if you need more or less. A too dark image need a longer time with an open shutter and a to bright image need a shorter shutter time or that you as a photographer wait until the sun has set some more.
  6. Use a remote trigger. To reduce camera shake even further use a cable release or a remote control or if you have none of these use the timer mode in your camera to delay the photo being taken for a few seconds after you press the shutter release.
  7. Good luck!

Additional tips

  • Before you start taking photos, walk for a bit and look for settings which would be a great photo. For long exposure photos of water personally I find locations where items are in the water which the waves can crash against to look most stunning.
  • Always think about photo composition when looking for a location. Foreground and background is just as important as the main subject in shots where you want to show a large area. If you are on a beach, look for stones and drift wood.

Selective color change in Photoshop Elements

The photo I have is of a white vintage car but I feel that a pink color would fit it better. I have used Photoshop Element 8 but it will also work with lower versions of Elements or Photoshop.

This is the car we are about to paint. I found this photo at Flickr and all credits go to the photographer, check out his stream at FlickR.

  1. Open up the photo in Photoshop Elements.
  2. Using the Quick Selection Tool, select the part of the photo you would like to change.

    Advanced: If you grow your selection a few pixels and then feather it you can soften the edges of the final product.

     

  3. Create a new layer and click on it to mark it as active.
  4. Using the Paint Bucket Tool, fill the selection in your newly created layer with a fitting color.
  5. With the new layer still active, change the layer blending mode to Multiply.
  6. To reduce the power of the color, move the Opacity slide to a value lower then 100%. You can find the opacity slider just to the right of the drop down list for the blending mode mentioned above. Now you should have something that looks like this

Good luck!

Lomo tutorial using GIMP

Lomo photography has gained grounds and is today a much used effect also on regular photos. The effect is all about mimic the photos which the old cameras from LOMO generated. Since it also is a very simple effect to mimic with the use of an image manipulation application I will show you how to do this using GIMP. GIMP is a free alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop which can be a bit hard to learn since the interface is very unique. But once learned, you can do very much with it.

The features which distinguish a lomo photo is the colors which are a bit unbalanced with a blue tint and also quite heavy vignetting.

We will use the following photo:

http://www.flickr.com/xenovoyance/

And this is what the image will look like when we have applied the lomo effect.

Let’s begin! Boot up GIMP and follow the work flow below.

  1. Open image
  2. From the menu in GIMP choose Color > Curves and create an ‘S’ shape for the curve to modify the colored tint.

    Alternative: To get even a more complete lomo effect, use an ‘S’ curve for all colors except blue. But as a start, go for the ‘S’ curve on all colors!

    Alternative: Before going for the curves you can also increase contrast and brightness a tiny bit to bring even more colors to the photo. You can find both contrast and hue in the top menu,  Colors > Brightness-Contrast.

  3. Time to give the image a strong vignette. This is done by adding a radial gradient to the image. First select the entire photo by selecting Select > All (CTRL + A)
  4. Shrink the selection a bit, Select > Shrink
  5. Feather the selection to get a soft selection and not get sharp corners, Select > Feather
  6. No invert your selection to select the outer part of the selection instead of the inner part, Select > Invert
  7. Create a new layer
  8. Choose the Gradient tool, set shape to ‘Radial’, colors white to black. Starting from the center of the image, create a gradient down to the bottom of the image and you should end up with something like this
  9. Now with the new layer selected choose Overlay as layer style for the layer to make it darken the edges instead of overflowing them.
  10. End by flatten all layers of the image and you are done!

Lomo photo effect using GIMP, quick and easy!

Selective black and white using Photoshop Elements

In this brief tutorial we will create a selective black and white photo using Photoshop Elements. For those of you who do not own Photoshop Elements I also made a tutorial for Picasa a litle while ago which can be reached here. I use Photoshop Elements 8 in this tutorial but the same technique do work in older versions as well. If you do not have Photoshop Elements or CS you can do the same thing in the free application Picasa, and I have the same tutorial for that application here.

This is what we will create in this tutorial:
Our final result

And this is the original photo:
Original

Step 1
Open up your photo in Elements Edit
Start

After this step I will multi task and show two ways of creating the effect. Choose either a) or b) and follow that path.

Step 2
Create a new adjustment-layer by left-clicking on your background-layer and drag and drop this upon the icon for adjustment layer. Choose gradient map and select a map from black to white.
Adjustment layer

Step 3
Next to your adjustment-layer there is an layer-mask (the white square), select this by clicking on it. Then using a brush and black color, paint on top of the parts in the photo you would like to be in color.
Layer mask

There is actually a number of ways of doing the same in Elements and I will therefore show you yet another way of doing the same effect.

Step 2, Optional way
Duplicate your layer by single-clicking the layer ‘Background’ in your layers window and then pressing CTRL + J (or Command + J if you are on Mac). This will create a new layer with the same content as the layer you had selected, in other words you now have two identical layers on top of each other.
Duplicated layer

Step 3, Optional way
With you duplicated layer selected, use the erasor to erase the parts in the black and white layer where you want color. The layer underneath in color will now instead show.
Erasor

There, we’re all set and have learnt two ways of doing this effect in Photoshop Elements!