In this tutorial I paint colour with luminosity masks to change the colours in the water. This brings back the colour to a more true representation of what it looked like on the day. Masks are used to control the areas affected.
Often in the field we see the most bright and vibrant colours. But, when we get home we don’t see that same colour in our images. This is typically caused by a couple of things, such as shooting in RAW. The data is in the image, but we need to draw it out. In the field we are seeing a Jpeg rendition of the image, edited by our camera. Another possible culprit is glare on the surface of subjects, such as water in this case. Even with a polarising lens, we can have trouble at times capturing the vibrancy. This leaves us needing to do some post processing in order to bring back what we saw on the day.
In this tutorial I use two different steps to bring the colour to life. The first step is to actually get the colour of the water where I want it. Secondly I darken the water and make the colour richer and full of contrast.
Firstly I create a transparent layer that sits above my image layer. This transparent layer is going to be used to paint the colour on that I want the water to be. Zooming in on the water, I select a colour directly from the image so that it blends in better with the image. I then change the blending mode of the transparent layer to color, so that only the colour is affected. Then using a soft edge brush at 100% opacity, I paint in the river, not worrying to much about the surrounding areas.
After completing the painting, I made a light luminosity masks selection, to restrict the effect to the water only. I didn’t worry about other areas of the image in the selection. The reason is the mask is being applied to the layer I painted on. Since I didn’t paint in the sky, it wasn’t going to be an issue.
Now that the water is the right colour, I wanted it to appear much richer. Using the same luminosity mask that I previously created, I created a curves adjustment layer. This allowed me to control the brightness and contrast of the water. As with the painting, other areas of the image were being affected by this adjustment. So, using the layer I used for painting, I selected that area. Then I further restricted the curves adjustment, by using the selection to create a group mask.