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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. It originates from the era of toy cameras and lomography. Arguably, its earliest forerunner is the practice of hand-tinted or hand-colored photographs from the 19th century.
The effect is usually achieved by using layers and masks in photo editing software (Photoshop, SilverFast, Adobe Fireworks or The GIMP for example). Selective color is used to accentuate certain features of a photography. By leaving certain areas of a photo colored, and filling the rest of the photo with grayscale, one can highlight certain parts of an image to make them stand out.
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.
The selective color camera effects popularity inspired developers of smartphones or tablets applications to invent special apps that allow users create selective color pictures. These apps are offered for iOS, Android and Blackberry OS.
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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