I have a friend that is a DJ at the FM station where I do a monthly music and interview show (WPKN 89.5 FM) who is always quick to remind me that, in art at least (and lots of other things), reality is far overrated. And when it comes to playing around in Photoshop, he's certainly right. While I use image editing largely to enhance reality and make my images appear more like they appeared to me in person (but even that is a bit of an abstraction since the way your eyes/brain see a scene and the way the camera sees them are two different things), but sometimes leaving reality far behind is a lot more fun.
The simplest way to alter reality in a photograph is just to turn the colors inside out. Changing the colors of familiar objects is fun because while people recognize what your subject used to be, they have to view it in a brand new light. And in Photoshop (and most editing programs) altering color is a piece of cake. In fact, I only used two tools to turn this normally blue and green peacock in a shocking mix of red and blue. The first thing that I did was to simply play wiht the "hue" slider in the hue-saturation tool. As you move that slider left or right all of the color relationships change. Once I had a color combination I liked, I used the "saturation" slider in that tool to really intensify the colors. Next I used the curves tool to heighten the contrast (by making the darks darker and the bright areas brighter) and further saturate the colors.
While I played with the image for 20 mintues or so, the actual work only took about five minutes. Remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to mixing up colors in an image--whatever looks good to you works.
By the way, the friend I mentioned is Terry Hopper and his program (1st and 3rd Thursdays, 2-6 p.m. ET) is The Quest. You can listen live via WPKN.org.
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