HDR Efex Pro 2: Bleached Color Effect

The “Color Bleach” effect with selective colorization is easy to do in HDR Efex Pro 2.

A favorite creative style of mine is the “color-bleached” look with selective colorization. This technique can be particularly useful in HDR images because you can control the textures with different tone-mapping styles.

Here’s a brief overview of how you create this effect in HDR Efex Pro 2

After you merge your images, select a tone-mapping (Tone Compression) style that suits you. For this image, I went with the “Sharp” setting in the Drama control in HDR Efex Pro 2 to exaggerate contrast.

Then, dial in a slightly over-exposed look by adjusting the Exposure (brightness) slider to the right and fine-tuning the contrast controls to your liking. Then, apply a global de-saturation by setting the Saturation slider in the Color Panel to a value around -75% or so. This leaves a little color in the overall image.

Start off by creating a bright, high-contrast image and then desaturate it with the global Saturation slider (Color Panel).

Last, apply Control Points to the area(s) of the image you wish to colorize. Use the Saturation slider on the Control Point to add color back to those areas.

Add color to selected areas of interest by using Control Points.

Tip: Create a saved preset for your global settings so that you don’t have to manually adjust every slider each time you want to apply this effect to your images.

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