After Before Forum; Split Toned Orchid

The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

For Women’s day two weeks ago I bought my wife an Orchid and now it has flowered it is begging to be photographed. For this picture I wanted to have the orchid on a plain background with no distractions. I also wanted to colourize the flower. Although the yellow is bright and bold I wanted something slightly different.


The first thing I did was open the picture in Photoshop and used the quick selection tool to select the flower. The quick selection tool is good for selecting large areas that have similar tones.


Since selection tools are not perfect I used refine edge to clean up the edges a bit.


I created a new layer and filled with white and set it as the background. The selection from the previous step I turned into a mask. I am now left with a single orchid set against a white background.


All the steps from now could have been continued in Photoshop. Instead I went back to Lightroom converted the image to monochrome and inverted the curves. Inverting the curves involves moving the black point up to the top and the white point down to the bottom, creating a negative image. All basic adjustment sliders are inverted, white is not black and shadows are now highlights for example. I made some basic adjustments just to balance out the image.


To add colour I applied a split tone with a warm yellow in the shadows and a cyan in the highlights.

split toning

Since the image is Black and White and inverted adjusting the tint and colour balance can have a huge impact. I played around until I got a tone I liked.

Benjamin Rowe Wk41 After

This was the final the image I sent to Stacy but over the next few days I kept looking at the picture and was not entirely happy with the image. The split toning felt off, so I decided to head back to the image and tweak it.

Split tone Orchid

This is the final image with some tweaking. Although the colours in the split toning are a bit more muted it works better in my opinion than having a blue glow in the whites. I like that the flower is isolated against the background, bringing more focus to the flower itself.

What do you think of the picture, is there anything you would have done differently? Let me know in the comments below.

Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s entries into this weeks forum

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18 thoughts on “After Before Forum; Split Toned Orchid

      • I definitely will. I hope to have some money soon, then I will buy a new Mac. My ex-hubby stole my one. So this computer was my daughter’s old one. Right from the beginning it didn’t like Photoshop at all. Just need to bide my time.

  1. The lighting on this orchid is just beautiful, I love it! Nicely explained processing steps as usual, very interesting thanks. Your second, tweaked, version is much improved, the muted tones look really nice and suit the picture much better. Great job!

    • Glad you like the process, the lighting is quite funny because it is inverted view. before the edges were in shadow and the centre were in shadow. The tweaked version seems to have worked from everyones comments. Thanks for taking the time to comment Katie

  2. Very nice work, Ben. The inverted curves adjustment was a very creative idea. I think you did the right thing by continuing to work on it. The removal of the blue cast eliminated a slightly unnatural tone. The final result, while only a tweak, is a big improvement. Great explanatory text, as usual. Thanks!

  3. hi Ben, great work, and description of your process, all else has been said before. I do like that you have turned the flower into more of an abstract image, and shown us something new! I am also enjoying your lego images on Instagram, very imaginative.

  4. Ben, I’ve never heard of or seen the process of inverting the tone curve. Just amazing!! I’m definitely going to try this out later today. And, as for your later tweaking, I too am in agreement with the others. The starker white is much more pleasing to the eye than the blue tones. Thanks for always sharing fun, creative tips!

  5. What you’ve done with this orchid is really cool. Great way to isolate it, a lesson I need to learn honestly.

    I’ve been growing orchids for a short while now (just over a year, seriously that is) so photos of them interest me personally. (Remember most people kill them by over-watering, most are epiphytes in the wild and their roots need to breathe. :)) They make awesome subjects. I found it hard for my One Four Challenge this month to even know what to do with my Orchid shot because I liked the image as it was. That said I’m impressed with the edit you did here. What you achieved is an orchid that so many collectors wish they could have! The color patterning coming from an all yellow flower is nice.

    And I like your last image best between the two. I too think the blue tint was a bit distracting though I do like to see color with orchids. Overall I think it’s pretty nice. 😀

    • I have been given quite a few orchids over the year, mostly from students at the end of courses. I have learnt to keep them alive and water them by straing water through the pot once a week. My mother in law is the person who brings them back to life if something goes wrong.
      It is strange that this is an orchid that people would want and I created it on the computer.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated.

      • Absolutely! It does seem a strange thing although man-made hybrids tend to be some of the most sought after though it depends on the collector as there are tons who collect species only. It would be an interesting search to find if there are any hybrids that might resemble ‘yours’. 😉

        Good job keeping them alive. Running the water through the pot is the way to go whenever the medium is dry. Sounds like your mother in law has a skill! 🙂

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