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I found this image that has a similar color grading to Liam Wong's Tokyo Nights series though it isn't actually his, and I'm curious as to how the effect may have been achieved.

It's obvious the image has gone through a heck of a lot of post processing as I'm sure the original photo was not lit originally using pink and blue light.

I'm thinking they could of achieved this effect a few different ways possibly by playing around with the color mixer, color balances, gradient maps, painting in colour and fiddling around with blend modes? What do you think? How is it done?

enter image description here

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    Liam here. That's not actually my image :) – Liam Wong Apr 19 '17 at 12:11
  • @LiamWong thanks for dropping by and letting us know. If you'd like to answer about how you might go about it anyways we'd love to hear it :) I know there's also a question about your work (your real work) on Photography Stack Exchange: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/86084/… – Ryan Apr 19 '17 at 12:36
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Layer above image, filled with 100% blue, Blending Mode set to Color.

Layer above blue, filled with 100% Magenta, Blending Mode set to Color. -- Add Layer mask to hide portions of magenta color.

enter image description here

The specific image in the question may have started as a full color image and a masked greyscale version was used to allow the neon sign to remain in full color while everything else was converted to grey. The blue is most likely also be masked around the neon sign to allow it remain at full color.

You can also add additional color layers and masks to "punch up" particular areas by using blending modes such as Color Dodge or Overlay, allowing for a more vibrant color in some areas.

This is merely how I'd start off with the concept... as always, it would need refinement for any particular usage.

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I am sure there are many ways to do this, but this method gives a somewhat similar effect, and isn't too complicated.

  1. Open an image in Photoshop and click Image > Mode > Lab colour

  2. Add a new Colour Balance adjustment layer. And set the values as follows

    • Shadows: Green/Magenta +100, Blue/Yellow -100
    • Midtones: Green/Magenta -50, Blue/Yellow -100
    • Highlights: Green/Magenta -50, Blue/Yellow -100

Here's the result showing a before and after image.

Before and after LAB mode, Colour Balance adjustment

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I like these things because it show many ways to achieve the results. Metis solution is very good looking.

I would go with your suggested gradient map. First I changed the photo to Black & white, not turned into grayscale but removed color where you have better options to play color balance. Then I applied gradient map. gradient map applied photo

Then I moved the layer over the original photo and played with blending mode. Here is with "Hard light"

enter image description here

And of course original enter image description here

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