Get Hollywood Contrast in Zoner Photo Studio

Hollywood has been using color edits to get some fascinating looks for certain films in recent years. The’re especially prominent in war movies like Saving Private Ryan and Fury. Outside film, you’ll find them in Band of Brothers. Contrast and desaturation electrify these works’ atmosphere. The same look does great things for photos too. Read on to learn all about it.

In a past article we showed you how to create different B&W takes on a picture using color channels. Today we’ll be showing you how to give photos an attractive contrast using a similar technique.

Start from a Good Shot with Good Light

If you want to start from good material (and you do!), don’t forget the usual rules of light. Seriously. It’s extremely important, because this technique makes everything in a photo stand out, including the mistakes. We also recommend that you start from the best data quality that you can—for example a 16-bit tiff.

Tried and True

This technique is tried and true, but it’s not a straitjacket. So for example try using different blending Modes in Zoner Photo Studio than the one suggested below. Find “your” edit.

The original we’re working with in our example. (At this stage we’ve already developed it from RAW.)

The original we’re working with in our example. (At this stage we’ve already developed it from RAW.)

Open your photo in Editor and use the Grayscale Effect (Ctrl+G):

menu

Use the most interesting channel first—and that means the blue channel. Blend the channel via the lightness mode. That makes the photo’s shadows stand out. This is a fairly strong-acting mode, so use a strength (Layer opacity) of at most 10 percent.

The photo after this adjustment.

The photo after this adjustment.

Restoring Lost Contrast

The next step is to mix the blue channel via the Soft light mode. This mode restore’s the photograph’s lost contrast. Use this mode with care, with an effect strength of about 20-30 percent.

The photo’s contrast has increased slightly.

The photo’s contrast has increased slightly.

In the next step we will work with the blue channel one last time. We mix the channels using multiply mode. This makes the photo much darker and gives it a brownish tint. Multiply is a very strong effect, and so we use a strength of about 20 percent.

The photo may seem a bit dark here—but we’re not done yet.

The photo may seem a bit dark here—but we’re not done yet.

Lightening Skin

We now begin our work with the red channel. This channel strongly affects skin color, so the face will be light. We’ll be running it through the Soft light mode.

The face and the jacket are now brighter; everything else is darker.

The face and the jacket are now brighter; everything else is darker.

We now use the red channel a second time. This time via the multiply mode. This has left the face and the jacket almost untouched while darkening everything else.

Our work is now almost done.

Our work is now almost done.

The last step is to fine-tune contrast via the green channel. It comes last because it’s the least visible. So we’ll handle it using Soft light mode and fine-tune the contrast. 20 or 30 percent strength will suffice.

Out with a Sparkle

The subject’s eye would be too dark as-is, so we wrap things up by adding a sparkle to his eye. This makes the photo a bit more attractive.

Try out techniques like the above for yourself, and again, find your own tried and true photo enhancement workflow. But remember that less is more, and that’s especially true for edits. And save this type of edit for the shots that it fits—generally “rough-looking” ones. Don’t use it on, for example, photos of children or pregnant women.

Use slider on the image to see the difference between original and edited picture:

Last updated 13. April 2015

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Author: Majo Elias

I’ve been taking pictures since 2004. When I was starting out, I photographed almost everything. Later my style solidified and I began photographing people almost exclusively. At the moment my main genres are fashion and advertising.

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Comments

  • The mouseover in the last pic doesn’t work for me (firefox)

    • Zoner

      Sorry for that, Shane, we added a slider bellow the image to see the difference. Works on tablets and phones too!

  • Arthur Locke

    It does not work on my monitor either (Chrome).

    • Zoner

      Our appologies, Arthur, we added a slider bellow the image to see the difference. Works on tablets and phones too!

  • It doesn’t work for me in Firefox or Chrome.

    • Zoner

      Sorry for that, we added a slider bellow the image to see the difference. Works on tablets and phones too!

  • Mihai

    Maybe next time you will put more screen capture for each steps…not only text…

    • Zoner

      We hoped this would be enough, but we were mistaken, thank you for this feedback! We’ll try to be better. :)

  • Lance

    Sorry not impressed with this article and the results. Hollywood? You are joking right?

    • Zoner

      Thank you for your comment Lance. We’re sorry you’re not impressed by this, so we hope we’ll make some new articles that will be more pleasing for your eyes! Is there anything particular you are interested in?