This shot was an entirely candid photo I took while I was sitting with some of my friends with my camera, taking random shots. Someone started to tell a joke and I could see my friend Liz’s reaction beginning to show. I quickly aimed the camera and took the shot. The frame captured her in the middle of laughing at the story with an absolutely incredible expression of joy spread across her face.
At the time, I was using my 50mm f/1.8 lens for a shallow depth of field and nice bokeh. I always like pairing this lens with the High Contrast Monochrome mode on my camera to get stunning portrait shots. The camera was in this mode at the time, so I only had a black and white version of the photograph.
I decided to let the fact that the photo was originally in black and white drive my manipulation and use a technique I have used on several old photographs. I colorized the photograph, or more specifically, only the subject of the photograph in Photoshop. The technique allows me total control over the colors in the photograph, meaning I can use a limited palette and select colors that work well together and create sharp contrast between certain elements of the photograph.
Each color is a separate Color Fill layer in Photoshop, each with its own mask layer. The blending mode on each color layer is set to Color, so the detail of the image is preserved. The quick selection tool makes it easy to select large general areas to color in, and then the paint brush on the mask layer can further refine the edges of the area.
The final version of this photo contains only 5 distinct color fill layers. Some objects share the same layer, such as her eyes and the stone on her necklace. Some objects have much brighter colors than they did originally, such as her eyes and her shirt. All together, the colors are very bright, increasing the contrast between her and the black and white background and fitting nicely with the bright expression on her face.