Pushing Blue Into the Shadows Using Photoshop

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Sunrise behind Icebergs on Iceland’s black sand beach Breidamerkursandur.

Incorporating transition into an image can make it more dynamic. There are different types of transition that you can use, but one that works well is to have warm tones (such as orange and yellow) transitioning to cool tones (such as blue).

The above image of Iceland’s glacier beach has a decent sunrise in the distance that creates warm tones in the upper part of the image. These warm tones give us half of what we need to create a warm to cool transition. However, the sand in the foreground is black, not blue. So, in order to incorporate a warm to cool transition, I pushed some blue into the shadows.

So, how did I do this in Photoshop? If you have a little experience using Curves layers, it is quite an easy adjustment to make.

First, add a Curves adjustment layer.

Then, click on the layer so that the curve becomes visible and change the RGB pull-down box to “Blue”. The blue tone curve is now showing, as seen in the next image.

Next, click on the curve around 1/4 to 1/3 from the bottom to place an anchor point. The idea here is to limit the adjustment to the darks.

Lastly, click on the bottom-leftmost point on the curve to select it. Click the up arrow on your key- board perhaps 5-7 times. You will notice blue moving into your shadows as the anchor point moves upward. The blue will be subtle. For some images, this can improve the transitional qualities slightly.

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