Before & After #30 / Changing Ocean Color in Photoshop

This week I'll be using another photo of the beautiful expecting mother from my last post. As you can see below, we were in the shade of a building over the water (see the corner of the roof in the top right?). While I thanked the building from blocking the direct sun from us (there were no clouds to help us out!), I didn't much like the shadow it cast on the water. The nasty...nasty brown water.

Click "read more" below to see how I transformed this image into something a little more like paradise.

Now here is the larger before photo.

Shot with Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.2L, at ISO 200, f/2.2, 1/6400 sec

The water isn't very blue, just mostly tinted from the shade, so the first thing I did (after a quick curves adjustment to better expose the photo) was run Big Blue from the Original Totally Rad Action Mix to increase the saturation & contrast of the water. This action works as a layer mask, and once it finishes doing it's thing, you would use the brush tool in black and paint the water (and sky if you want!). See the effect below, with the opacity dropped to 58%. Do not paint your subject.

Note: You can skip this step if you don't have those actions & increase your blue saturation later if you want to.

And heeeeere comes the fun part. First - very important!! Duplicate your background layer you've probably been working on. You can do that by holding down Ctrl + J (Cmd + J for Mac) to duplicate your active layer, or right click the layer in your layers list and select duplicate. Next, select the eye dropper tool (pink circle, far left, middle). Find a shade of blue you like (middle pink circle), and click on it. If you have no blue water to select, you can also just pick a shade of blue from your default color swatches or create your own. Once you've selected your blue color, select the brush tool (select/arrow pointing on the left). Now see the pink circle up top surround the word color? Yours probably says Normal right now - so click it, and scroll all the way down to Color. Make sure your brush is sized accordingly (I use the [ & ] keys to make it smaller/bigger). Now color! Again - careful not to color your subject, just color the brown water. Since I don't like it to look too fake, I like to bring the layer opacity down a little here also.

And the final image! Top it off, I used the yin/yang action from the above mentioned set. You can get a similar look by using the dodge & burn tools. Dodge where you want to lighten - and burn where you want to darken (the water!).

If you enjoyed this post and have a suggestion for one in the future, please contact me below!

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