How to Make Orange & Teal Photos Without a Filter

A lot of people use orange & teal filters throughout the year, but I think the best time to use them is during the autumn season. They tone down the greens and give a rustic feel that looks very fall-like. There’s filters on apps you can use that have orange & teal filters you can put on your photo, but these are a hit or miss. The main problem with filters is that they’re created with the purpose to be used with a variety of different photos – photos with different exposures, shutter speeds, white balance, color scheme, etc. The effect they have on certain photos may not be the same effect they have on yours. For example, they might oversaturate your photo or overexpose it. Filters are a quick and easy way to edit your photos, but sometimes to get the look you want you have to do it yourself.

Here is a step-by-step way to make your photo into an orange & teal one using Photoshop (shocker). If you want to use a free app, the only one I’ve found that has the filter to make your photo orange/teal is called (what could be nothing other than) “Orange Teal.” But like I said it’s a hit or miss. Knowing how to do it without a filter, gives you a ton of power over your photos.

Before I get into it, let me just say that not every photo looks good as orange/teal. If you have a lot of blues and oranges already in your photo, then this filter will only accentuate those colors. If there’s a lot of white/black in your photo (which by definition are not actual colors), then the filter won’t have a lot to work with, and you probably won’t see much of a change. This filter works best with photos that have a lot of green/yellow hues. So if you want to make one of your spring photos into fall, this is the perfect filter to use.

Now, how to edit.

Step 1: Camera Raw Filter

Open your photo in Photoshop. I’m going to show you how to edit orange/teal using a photo of my buffalo. Go to filter>camera raw filter. The window will open, and you’ll be overwhelmed by all of the options. Scroll down to the tab that says “color mixer.”

There’s a lot of sliders there, but we’re most interested in the hues tab for aquas, greens and blues. What we’re trying to do here is change our color scheme to the orange/teal one. For that to work, we need our greens all the way to the left towards yellow to get rid of that springy grass vibe. We need our blues to be changed to that aqua or “teal” color, and we need our aquas stronger to bring out the teal color. So move those sliders to the left. The sliders won’t be the same for every photo, but for the general horse photo taken in a pasture, these are the primary ones you need to adjust. How strong you want the filter to be will all depend on you. If you want a more subtle orange/teal vibe, then don’t go as far to the left like I did. For learning purposes, I’m trying to make a strong filter so you can see the changes.

Once you have your sliders adjusted to look more orange/yellow and teal and have muted the other colors, then you can go to your next step.

Step 2: Color Calibration

In this step, all we’re doing is making the orange/teal scheme stronger. In the above photo, it’s pretty subtle, so we’re going to use these color calibration sliders to push our primary colors more towards what we want. For the red primary, move it towards the right closer to the orange hue. For the blue primary, move it closer to the left towards the aqua hue. You can change the saturation of it as well if the aquas or oranges are too much. All we’re trying to do is manipulate the color scheme. We’re not trying to blow out the colors so that it looks oversaturated and overprocessed. In fact, orange and teal filtered photos generally look more desaturated with muted colors. So remember the ultimate goal, and don’t get too crazy with it.

There’s a feature (if you look on the bottom of the screenshot next to where it says “saturation,”) that lets you see the original compared to the editing changes you’ve made. Just click the icon that has two rectangles being divided by a line, and it will show you the original. If you click the square icon next to that one, it will show you a side-by-side comparison view, which is also helpful. These features will keep you from over-editing because it will show you how dramatically you’re changing the photo. In editing, less is more.

Once you have adjusted the sliders, so they look good, then we can move on to the “basic” tab.

Step 3: Basic Editing

The basic editing is usually where we start, but for the orange/teal filter it’s best to do it last. This section is all personal preference. However, if you’re really trying to obtain the orange/teal filtered vibe, then I recommend the following edits.

The filters give off a rustic vibe, so don’t mess with the vibrance or saturation (unless your photo is too bright with color). We want the photo to be pretty muted with dark shadows and a little bit of a contrast to make the shadows even bolder. Bring the contrast up a tad, the shadows way down, the blacks down a bit and the clarity up.

Those edits are just what I would do to finish off the filter, but do whatever you think looks best. Your photo might need different changes than mine, so play around with the sliders if they aren’t looking quite right. You can even go back to other steps and readjust them if you have to. Just be sure you don’t hit “ok” and exit the camera raw filter window before you’re completely finished, otherwise you’ll have to go back into the filter and completely re-do everything.

Before
After

By the end, you should see strong hints of aquas and orange in your photo with nice, dark shadows and an all around rustic/vintage style. If your photo doesn’t look like this, go back into the steps and play around with the sliders a bit. If you still can’t get it, send it to me, and I can help you out @vispera.