Selective color

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Use of selective color on a flag.

Selective color is a post-processing technique where most of a photo is converted to black and white, but some parts are left in color. This is usually achieved by using layers and masks in photo editing software (Photoshop, SilverFast, Adobe Fireworks or The GIMP for example).

A common application for selective color is portraiture, to keep the eyes and sometimes the lips in color, against an otherwise black-and-white photograph. Small regions of color in an otherwise monochrome image immediately draw the viewer's eye.

Landscape photography is another common application for this technique. Colorful leaves in an otherwise drab scene can breathe life into a photo. Of course the technique can be applied to any genre, but portraits and landscapes are the usual beneficiaries.

Films such as Schindler's List and Sin City have made use of the technique. Video and movies generally would either have masks with manual keyframing, or entire footage with grayscale using superimposed chromakeyed color props or actor (or even highlights like Sin City)

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