Simple Color Changes that Affect the Mood of a Photograph

As I grow in my understanding and use of color, I'm sometimes forced to look back at some of my favorite shots and recognize that I didn't do the image justice with the tones I chose while editing.

One of my favorite shoots to date is the Garden Girls series, which has such a sweet, idyllic charm that I can't get enough of. When I first edited this shot, I had warm tones in mind, but my eye wasn't quite as trained as it is now, and I saw every little adjustment as if it were huge. Because it seemed like I'd pushed the color SO far, I backed off and found a middle ground. Unfortunately, the color ended up being just a bit too green, and didn't carry the feeling of warmth I wanted.

 Notice how the face of the adult model is just a bit too yellow, while her chest is cooler? There is also still a color cast on the skin of the girls from being so close to the grass.

Notice how the face of the adult model is just a bit too yellow, while her chest is cooler? There is also still a color cast on the skin of the girls from being so close to the grass.

When I revisited the image, I was able to see the things I missed before, and address them by using the color balance tool and selective color tool in Photoshop. With a bit of masking to control where each adjustment was applied, I was able to correct the tone and give the photograph the warm tones of a late spring afternoon I'd first envisioned.

Edwardian Garden Girls-510-by Nicole York.jpg

One version is much more true to reality, and the other has a lighter, warmer, more ethereal feel. It seems less like a portrait and more like a still from a movie or a storybook illustration. The skin tones are rosier, the grass color doesn't dominate the image, and the light has a warm, reddish glow that feels much more like the end of a long day spent in the garden.

Have you ever come back to old images you loved and realized that you hand't quite done them justice? I know I can't be the only one. How did you re-edit them to get the results you really wanted?