Turning Brown and Yellow Grass Green in Photoshop

Pet-Photography-Green-Grass-PS(Originally posted on the Kira DeDecker Photography blog)

Here in the Metro-Phoenix area of Arizona, grass is not a natural occurrence. If you’ve never had to the pleasure of visiting Arizona, it could best be described as flat sand covered in concrete. Desert living, eh?! Like I was saying, to grow grass, you need to seed and plant it for the season which means during the spring or fall season, you might run the chance of coming across yards in transition. This is why I love this Photoshop trick. Not only is it easy and practical, it also puts the greenery back in the grass without look artificial or overdone. Plus, it uses one of my favorite “fixers”, a little underused (IMO) blending mode that really deserves more love.

I’m going to be using a photo from Winston, the lovable puppy, who I might add lives in the most amazing houses and yards I have ever seen. I can honestly say that besides this one photo, I didn’t have to touch up the yard one bit (I’ve had sessions where the yard has just been scalped – ek) except for this one photo where is plopped down in some sunbeaten grass.

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So, I’ve imported the RAW file into Photoshop. (The only things I did in Lightroom before the import was adjust the color temperature and then added +61 exposure). Since I skipped the usual Lightroom/Raw edit step, here are the technical deets: 1/2000 sec at f/2.8, ISO 500 taken with a 50mm 1.4 lens.

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I went ahead and I cloned out the leaf – it was distracting – and did my usual workflow. The image is done and ready to go except I don’t love the dead grass. I want lush greenery! This a puppy shoot after all so I want things fresh.

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I zoom into the photo a bit (shortcut: ALT+mouse scroll wheel) and then click Select -> Color Range. With the eye dropper, I select some of the yellow grass, now this isn’t going to grab all the dead stuff since it ranges in color and tone so I select the Add to Dropper and select the rest of the dead yellow grass. And yes, it started selecting Winston, but chill, I deal with that later.

When all the yellow grass is selected, I click OKAY, now the Color Range of the dead grass is selected.

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With my selection still marqueed, I create a new separate layer. Select the Color Picker, set to a Sample Size of 11 Average, and then choose a nice median green with the eye dropper.

Pet-Photo-Tips-06>With the Brush Tool, I go over the dead grass at 100% opacity.

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Next I deselect selection (shortcut: CTRL+D). OMG, doesn’t it look gross?!

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Now, here is where things go from unnatural to believable. I change the layer mode from Normal (where is looks disgusting) to Color.

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Voila. But in the process on selecting and coloring the brown and yellows, part of my main subject was painted green so I select the Eraser and erase anything I don’t want green. Easy to do since I did all this on a new separate layer!

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Here is it all done!

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Kira DeDecker is an on-location, natural light, lifestyle pet photographer specializing in one-of-a-kind fine art and modern portraits. She works exclusively with pets to create vibrant, quirky and soulful works of art. In addition to her dog photography, she also photographs needy animals pro-bono for non-profit animal organizations.

Kira DeDecker Photography is based in Glendale AZ and serves the Metro Phoenix area (Scottsdale, Peoria, Phoenix, Suncity, Surprise, Goodyear, Avondale and Tempe) and beyond.

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