Haute Shot

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The French Impressionists should be very pleased because photographers have been borrowing from them for years. At the turn of the last century, a style of painting now called Fauvism came about in France that used bold colors along with stark outlines. Quite controversial in its time, this style of painting was made famous by Henri Matisse.


To achieve a derivative of a fauve scene before there were computers, you would copy a color slide onto graphics art film. After processing, you would combine the high-contrast black-and-white image with the original color slide. A slight offset would create a fauve-like scene where the color image would have a black outline.

Today, you can create this effect more easily with software to add an artistic effect to a favorite photograph. I’ve found this process works best when you use an image that has distinctive edges.

In my example, I used a photo taken of Nauset Lighthouse, located on Nauset Beach in Eastham, Cape Cod, Mass. The original image is a pretty straightforward shot; it’s the same shot everyone takes when visiting this famous beach on Cape Cod. After reviewing the images, I wanted something more—something that would give this image additional definition and punch.


1. If you haven’t done so already, make your basic corrections and enhancements to the original image as you would normally.

2. Next, create a copy of the background layer. To do this, drag the background layer to the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Rename the new layer “Color.” This is going to be your working layer.

3. To enhance the edge definition to your color layer, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). How much Hue, Saturation and Light-ness you’ll need will depend on how defined the edges of your image are. By using an Adjustment Layer, you can make changes later if you need additional color.

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