Metallic Moose?

It could be a Canadian rock band but here I am talking about a duotone process for creating black and white images of a moose I photographed yesterday.

Lately I have been experimenting with using the split toning controls to replace my black and white conversion workflow.  The slightly metallic look appeals to me and I like the dimensionality that I can create using this technique.  I have applied this technique to people and landscapes and wanted to try it on a wildlife subject.  This moose looked great among the warm fall colors so it was fun to take that starting point and try to create a different feel to the images.

The specific process I follow starts in Adobe Lightroom’s Develop module but is applicable to Photoshop or any other editing program where you can set the colors.  First I zero out the import settings so that I am starting with the unaltered RAW file and then I build the image following these are the steps to create this look.
Split Tone Color:
I like to set my highlight color to a shade between gold and silver (in LR I adjust the hue and saturation to get the tone I like).  For the shadows, I set the color to some shade between blue and grey.
Tone Curve:
I apply an S curve and then tweak it to find the balance of shadow and highlight that works for me on that image.
Basic Adjustments:
Next, I adjust the Blacks, Fill, Clarity and Exposure to find the final look that I am looking for.
Detail Adjustments:
To finish I, like many, apply any noise reduction and sharpening that I feel adds to the image.  I don’t use either very much but here with the fine detail in the moose’s coat, I found raising the sharpening amount and detail added to my enjoyment of the images.

Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want the image to look like with this technique but a change to the tone colors or the mix of settings can make a surprising change to the feel of the image.

One response

  1. Val Erde

    Interesting process. I don’t have Lightroom, but I use a ‘cut-down’ version of Photoshop called Photoshop Elements, it has nearly everything the full programs do, except for curves and a few of the masking effects, though it does have some. I use PE for most of my artwork and for processing some photographs (mostly ones my husband takes as mine aren’t as good!) When it comes to these sorts of effect though, that you’re using here, I find that I spend so much time experimenting that I rarely end up with something I’m happy with.

    I like that you’ve found a softness here – it’s kind of like a cross between colour and monochrome. Does this process have similarities to a gradient map?

    By the way – do moose (mooses?) – apart from when they’re rearing young when I expect they’re defensive like any other animal – have pleasant temperaments or are they scary? It looks very benign in that top photo!

    October 7, 2010 at 3:53 am

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