About Color Morphing

Color morphing is a process that changes the colors in a photograph using computer software. It is a multimedia production where the media are the camera, to produce the original photograph, and the computer, to, through the use of software, change the color of the pixels in the image. The end result is a digital image that shows a whole different view than the photograph.

It is important to note that once a photograph is entered into a computer and modified in any way it is no longer a true photograph; that is, an image produced by visible light waves. When modifying a photograph with computer software we are changing the digits that represent the color of the pixels.

Thus we are producing an image that has been generated by two different methods, one of which is not light. It is generally understood that if only making those types of changes that are done in the darkroom, such as dodging and burning, then we will still call the resulting image a photograph. Doing more than that results in a new media or a multimedia produced image.

For me, it all started in the summer of 2004 when I made some digital photographs of the attic in the house my wife and I were renovating to show to peaks and valleys in the roof to the architect who was giving us some ideas on what to do with the ceiling of our living room. Even with my efforts to get light in the attic the photographs came out too dark to show the detail I wanted to see. It was clear that they had to be lightened to be of maximum use so I brought them into Nikon’s editing computer software. As I used the lightness tool I not only lightened the image but I was able to bring out some color. I then went to the curves tool and was able to bring out more colors, and different colors in unexpected places. Several hours later, in the wee hours of the morning, I stopped changing the lightness and found that the image showed more detail than the photograph, was colorful and made for a beautiful presentation.

Colors had emerged from the brown and gray, the image got sharper and deeper, and the beauty I had seen in the darkened image was freed. Rather than distant and foreboding, the image was now warm and playful; rather then smelling dusty, hot and humid it became airy light and dry. I next tried the same technique on some other house renovation photographs. I obtained the same results. Some of the images were more colorful then others and had different levels of liveliness, but all had a new beauty. I now had something that took some of my images to a new level of interest and excitement.

Not all pictures are amenable to Color Morphing. In particular, people often come out looking horrible or grotesque, and some pictures just don’t work for reasons I have yet to discover, but I plan to continue using and enhancing this technique as time permits and to layer other processes on the images to further enhance their beauty.

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