It’s that time of year when autumn leaves produce a riot of colour, and you’ve only got a short window of time to get out there and get pictures.
But the results don’t always match your expectations, and this shot is a prime example. The reds and yellows of the leaves were striking, but they were also too close together in tone to produce an effective contrast between the two colours.
This is what the Contrast Colour Range filter in Color Efex Pro is for. It’s part of the DxO Nik Collection.
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Here’s an annotated screenshot showing how this filter works and how it transformed this lacklustre image:
1: Contrast Color Range filter: It’s easy enough to find on the filter menu in the left sidebar. There are lots of filters, but they’re arranged alphabetically.
2: Colour: This is the key slider. As you move this across the spectrum of colours, it exaggerates the difference in intensity between different hues. Here, we’ve found a setting (200) that really separates the yellow leaves from the read leaves behind them.
3: Colour Contrast: Once you’ve found this ideal setting, you can increase or reduct its effect with this slider. With this picture, increasing the value to 160% really makes the colours pop.
4: Brightness: If your adjustments leave the picture looking too light or too dark, you can fix that here. We gave our picture a small brightness increase of 13%.
5: Contrast: Similarly, if the picture looks a little flat in terms of overall brightness range, you can use the Contrast slider to give it a bit more punch – we’ve added an extra 19%. This is a regular contrast adjustment and not to be confused with the Colour Contrast slider above.
And here’s the finished picture. It’s a massive improvement and one that would have been difficult to plan and carry out using regular image-editing software. I’ve got a whole bunch of other images from the same session that could benefit from the same treatment, but every image is different – there are so many different combinations of leaf colour that it’s likely I’ll need different Contrast Colour Range settings for each.