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Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image editing application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements 8, along with its companion program, Bridge CS4, to organize and edit photos, build projects like web galleries and photo collages, and share photos with family and friends. Jan dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
A photo can sometimes have an unwanted predominant color, which is called a Color Cast. And that colorcast often comes from the light under which the photo was shot. For example, if you shoot under fluorescent lights indoors, your photo may have a greenish cast. And it's typical to see a bluish cast in snow and in fog, as you see in this photo. The Remove Color Cast command is the most direct way to correct a colorcast when you're working in the Full Edit Workspace. Before I apply the Remove Color Cast command to this photo, I want to diagnose the colorcast, because sometimes colorcasts are hard to see.
To do that I am going to open the Info panel from the Window menu at the top of the screen, and in the Info panel, I am interested in this top left quadrant, which will report the amount of red, green and blue under my cursor in the image. I am going to get the Eyedropper tool from the toolbox and move my cursor over the image. Notice that in that top left quadrant, the value of blue is much higher than the value of green and red, and that confirms that there is a blue colorcast, and the same is true if I move elsewhere in the image.
So now I have confirmed that there is a colorcast and it's one that I do want to remove. Unfortunately, the Remove Color Cast command is not available as an adjustment layer, so I am going to make a duplicate of the photo layer, the background layer here, and work on that, preserving the original photo on the background layer. I'll Ctrl+Click on the background layer in the layers panel, right-click if I have a two-button mouse, and choose Duplicate layer, and I'll click OK. And with the Background Copy layer selected in the layers panel, I am going to go up to the Enhance menu at the top of the screen, down to Adjust Color, and I'll choose Remove Color Cast.
That opens the Remove Color Cast dialog box, which I am going to move over, so I have a better preview of the image. This dialog box tells you exactly what to do. It says, take this Eyedropper and click on part of the image that you think should be either gray, white or black. In other words, on part of the image that you want to set to neutral without a colorcast, and that should make the other colors in the image fall into line also. But actually there is quite a bit of trial and error involved in figuring out where to click. So I might start by clicking under the table here, which looks to me like it should be neutral, but if I do that, then the rest of the image turns aqua.
So let me try clicking over here perhaps on these bushes. No. That doesn't work either. That turns the snow to magenta. I'll try one more time clicking right in the snow, and I think that that's the best result that I've seen. Now this isn't a perfect result. It has made the snow neutral, but I still would tweak the image further, perhaps adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer to pump up the intensity of the color that's left here. But at least I have minimized that blue colorcast. And to confirm that, take a look in the top left quadrant of the Info panel, the numbers to the right of the slash indicate that under my cursor there is now an even balance of red, green and blue.
If I like these results, I'll click OK in the Remove Color Cast dialog box, and just to remind you of what a difference that command has made, I am going to make the Background copy layer temporarily invisible. So this is where I started with the blue colorcast, and this is where I ended up with just a click of the Eyedropper tool in the Remove Color Cast dialog box. So if you shoot a photo under less than ideal lighting conditions, use the Info panel to check for a colorcast, and then the Remove Color Cast command to try to correct that.
But do keep in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong with a color cast all the time. If you have a color cast that's appealing to you, then by all means keep it. For example, if you have a sunset photo, there could be a golden cast that enhances that end of day mood. But if there is a color cast that you find unappealing, then do try to reduce it using the Remove Color Cast Command.
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