Julieanne Kost shot a set of photos in one place on the same day and used Photoshop to transform the individual images into this single gorgeous abstract.

How Julieanne Kost Created ‘Colors of Place’

By Terri Stone

Julieanne Kost is Adobe's principal evangelist for Photoshop and Lightroom and—no surprise—a talented photographer. Her work takes her all over the world, and whenever possible, she brings her camera to capture her surroundings, which range from Berlin to Tasmania, Singapore to Antarctica. (She even makes art from the journey itself, as you can see in her Window Seat and Passenger Seat books.)

Kost's images are always striking, but "Color of Place," her most recent series, explores a bold new direction. As much as anything, it's a psychological study in which she examines relationships to color—her personal relationship and the larger societal connection. (For details on what Kost learned from this study, see "Color Palettes from around the World.") Each piece in the series is composed of photos Kost shot in one location during a single visit; to focus our attention on the scene's hues instead of its subject matter, Kost invented an elaborate process that strips out context and leaves pure, abstract color.

Valley of Fire, February 24-25, 2018

Death Valley, October 8-11, 2015

Singapore, August 11-12, 2017

Hong Kong, February 7-8, 2015

Beijing, September 16-22, 2005

Warsaw, November 11-13, 2014

Kost refined her process as she went along. The final workflow was highly personalized to her needs, with several custom actions, and not for the faint of heart. But if, like us, you're itching to try something similar with your own images, you can use the basic steps and video below as inspiration to craft your own workflow.

Click the image above to watch Kost walk through every step of the process manually. After she refined the workflow, she automated some of what you'll see in the video; for example, instead of manually selecting and opening each file one by one and applying a blur, she exported all 50 images at one time and recorded Actions in Photoshop to apply the Path Blur filter to all exported files as a batch process.

  1. Select 50 images that best represent a location's colors. 
  2. In Adobe Photoshop, open the 50 images as 16-bit PSD files and resize them to a uniform height, if necessary. 
  3. Run the Path Blur filter twice on each image and save the files. 
  4. In each blurred image, select the area you want to use as a colored stripe in the final panorama.
  5. To preview the 50 colored stripes as a single panorama, import them into Lightroom Classic, and use survey view to order them in an aesthetically pleasing way. 
  6. Export the files from Lightroom, adding a two-digit sequence to the beginning of each filename so it's easier to recreate their order in the next step. 
  7. In Photoshop, create a new document and add guides and margins for reference. Drag and drop the images into the open Photoshop document and distribute the stripes to form the panorama. If you have second thoughts about the arrangement you made in step 5, you can reorder the stripes, each of which is on its own layer, now.
  8. If desired, merge the layers and run the Path Blur filter again. 
  9. Finally, add a border, remove the guides, and save the completed panorama. 

For more of Kost's inspiration and instruction, check out her blog.

Alaska, May 19-21, 2009

U.S. Virgin Islands, July 16 - 18, 2018

Dolomites, June 27- July 3, 2011

Copenhagen, October 15-16, 2010

Brasov, May 27-29, 2014

Salt Lake City, July 28, 2012

April 8, 2019