Week 6 – The nature and use of colour in design and photography

Cross Processing

Cross processing is a technique mainly used in fashion and portrait photography. By using photoshop we can reproduce how photographers used to use this technique with film. The effect achieves distorted colours and bleaches skin tones

Cross-processing is developing color film in the wrong chemicals e.g color negative film in slide chemicals (“C-41 as E-6”) or slide film by the color negative process (“E-6 as C-41”).

 The most common combination is C-41 as E-6, in which slide chemistry is used to process color negative film, and it’s a quick job to imitate it in Photoshop. Image contrast is usually high with blown-out highlights, while the shadows tend toward dense shades of blue. Reds tend to be magenta, lips almost purple, and highlights normally have a yellow-green color cast.

With all the other coloring effects described in this chapter, the main coloring adjustments are applied as adjustment layers using the Color blend mode. This helps preserve the original luminosity, if you want to simulate a high contrast cross- processed look, use the Normal blend mode instead and in addition to that consider increasing the contrast in the RGB composite channel as well (which will also boost the color saturation). The other thing you can do to adapt this technique is to experiment with alternative color channel adjustments and try using different color fills and layer opacities.

C-41 film processed in E-6 chemicals

This is the original image before cross processing techniques were applied.

I added a new curves layer and began adjusting each channel individually. By adding points to create a very gentle S darkens the shadows and brightens the Red channel’s highlights.

Adding another gentle S curve in the green channel helps increase the contrast, especially in the highlights

In the blue channel dragging the top right point downward takes out blue highlights and top left point upwards blocks up blue shadows. All these Curves adjustments can be experimented with as settings will vary image to image.

I further added a darker colour blend to the layer to help recover blown out highlights

Adding a colour fill layer is optional but I decided to add a green colour cast to my image, the most amount of opacity adviseable use is around 10%

This is my final image after cross colour processing and other adjustment layers were applied


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