Here’s an easy but useful post-processing tutorial for you to experiment with Adobe Photoshop. There are a lot of ways to achieve this desaturated look and this is just one of the few techniques you can use. The objective is to create a moody, desaturated photo but still with a tinge of color in the scene. How much or how little color you want to leave in depends on your opacity settings and color tint choice. Feel free to experiment.
Here’s our original image, ideally, this is best suited if the subject/scene itself is moody as well, but I just chose this photo for convenience).
First, we start with converting our image to black and white. You can use your favorite conversion technique here, I simply chose the Green Filter setting in CS4’s Black and White adjustment layer.
Change the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light.
Then we add a Solid Color fill on top, then select a solid color to use. Here, I used a teal/cyan patch. I clicked on the Web Colors for simplicity’s sake.
Then change the blend mode of this layer to Soft Light.
Now we add another B&W layer on top, this time, I used a gradient map simply because I want to be able to set the contrast in one go (instead of adding a contrast adjustment layer later on). Note that I adjusted the midpoint on my black to white gradient to reduce the image contrast.
Change the blend mode to Multiply and reduce the opacity to around 50%. We’re done!
You can change the look and feel of the image by simply changing the color swatch used in the Solid Color adjustment layer.
Go play with the opacity, color fill, and blend modes to achieve different looks :)