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There are some photographers who proudly proclaim that they do not use Photoshop or an equivalent photo editor. I'm not one of them. I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get the best looking image possible. And that means adjusting the tone and color of images in Photoshop or Lightroom or Aperture, iPhoto. Whatever is your tool of choice, even if you have only a casual acquaintance with these programs, a few simple moves can dramatically improve a photograph. Transforming it into the image you had in your mind when you released the shutter. The histogram shows the distribution of brightness values throughout an image. On the left are the shadows, and on the right, the highlights. You can increase the contrast of an image by making its brightness values stretch across the full tonal range.
More subjective is the issue of color balancing. If you're feeling un-confident about this, try the auto color options in your photo editing software. For a more hands-on approach, you can use the color-balance tool to identify an area of your image that should be neutral - that is, without a color cast. And use this as your target to color balance the image. Color balancing, or white balancing, as it is also called, is a complex issue. For more information, check out some of the many Photoshop, Lightroom, or iPhoto courses on lynda.com.
Keep in mind that the current crop of digital SLR cameras do a good job of auto color balancing your images. Speaking of complex issues, there's also color management. Color management is about achieving consistent color, so that the colors of your image on screen match the colors in your proof prints, and match the colors in your printed book as closely as possible. To this end, online photo book services provide color profiles.
Small files that you can download and install on your computers. These color profiles describe the characteristics of the printers used to output your book. Installing them will make your images appear on screen the way they will look in print as closely as possible. It's important to know that using color management and color profiles does not in any way change the data in your images. Only how those images are displayed.
Color management is complicated. If you want to know more, I advise you to check out Chris Murphy's course, Color Management Essential Training.
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