Photo EffectsPhotoshop Tutorials

This Technique Lets You Create Unlimited Surreal Filters

If you’re inspired by the surreal color grading of photographers like Masashi Wakui, then this tutorial is for you. You’ll learn how to create your own surreal look with just two adjustments in Lightroom CC. Although this is a Lightroom tutorial, you can follow along with Photoshop via the Camera Raw filter (Filter > Camera Raw Filter). Here are some examples of the color grading you can create with this technique:

Step 1 – Shift the Hue

First, you’ll pick two colors and shift the rest of the colors towards those two colors. This technique simplifies the colors. In Photoshop, go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
Go to the HSL Adjustments > Hue tab.
Pick two colors from the list – preferably a pair that aren’t too close to each other. I’ll pick the Aquas and Magentas. Leave the two colors that you chose set to 0. Shift the rest of the colors towards those two colors.
Here’s how it looks like before and after. You can tweak the color balance using the white balance setting if you need to. This will depend on your photo, but most of the time you can leave it alone.
You can use the white balance adjustment to emphasize one color over the other.

Step 2 – Tint the Shadows & Highlights with RGB Curves

Go to the Tone Curve > Point tab.
If you don’t know how to use the tone curve, watch this video on the tone chart technique. It’ll help you understand how it works. Don’t worry if you don’t want to dive too deep into RGB curves. You can still follow along because the technique is simple. Pick two colors to tint the shadows/highlights. I’ll choose purple. Go into the Green channel then drag the top-right point downwards. This will tint the highlights purple.
The green/purple background was added to help you visualize the tone curves. It’s not actually there.
To tint the shadows purple, we need to go into the blue and red channels and drag the bottom-left point upwards.

Final Results

You’re done! Here’s how the image looks like before and after. Try creating other color combinations. Shift the hue towards other colors. Create different patterns in the RGB curves. Here are some other examples created using this technique.

Download the Night Shift Lightroom Presets

Also mentioned in the video are Night Shift Lightroom CC presets. There are 3 presets that you can download for free. The presets are compatible with:
  • Lightroom CC for Windows & Macs
  • Lightroom CC for iOS & Android
  • Lightroom Classic CC
  • Photoshop (via the Camera Raw filter)

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