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Photoshop Elements 7 is packed with features to help amateur photographers with every stage of digital photo processing, from getting organized to sharing projects with family and friends. In Photoshop Elements 7 for Windows Essential Training, Jan Kabili shares workflow techniques for organizing, editing, creating projects, and sharing. She also demonstrates how to enhance photos with this budget-friendly software. Jan explains the latest updates to the Organizer and Editor workspaces, and also covers new features like the Smart Brush tool and Photoshop.com integration. Elements is very well known for its project features, and Jan shows how to create books, collages, panoramas, and more. Example files accompany the course.
A photo can sometimes have an unwanted predominant color, which we call a color cast, depending on the light under which the photo was shot. For example, if you shoot under florescent lights, your photo may have a greenish cast to it 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 most direct way to correct a color cast when you are working in the Full Edit workspace. Let us see how it works. This photo is snow.jpg from the 09_06 subfolder of the Chapter 06 exercise files. Before I apply the Remove Color Cast command to this photo. I'm going to open the Info palette. To do that I'll go to the Window menu at the top of the screen and I'm going to choose Info. The info palette displays the color values of whatever pixel is under the cursor at that time. I'm looking at the RGB quadrant of the Info palette, which is right here and when I move my cursor over any part of this image, I cam see the red, green and blue color values that are under the cursor.
Because this image is what we call an RGB image, a Red Green Blue image, all of the colors in it are made up of combinations of red, green and blue. The Info dialog box reports the values of red, green and blue in any pixel that is under my cursor. So when I move my cursor over to the left, in the top left quadrant of the Info dialog box, I see that I have red 137, green 156 and blue 186, and that describes a particular color.
The reason I'm using the Info dialog box now, is because it is useful to tell me whether or not I have a color cast in an image, because color casts are sometimes hard to see with your eye. So it kind of looks to me like there is a lot a blue in the snow, but to confirm that I'm going to move my cursor over the snow and I have the Eye Dropper tool selected while I'm doing that. If you look at the top left quadrant of the Info dialog box, you can see that the B value for blue is quite a bit higher than the R and G values, confirming that indeed there is a color cast in this photo.
So how am I going to remove this color cast? By going to the Enhance menu at the top of the screen, down to Adjust Color, and over to Remove Color Cast. That opens the Remove Color Cast dialog box. I find this dialog box really helpful because it explains right here what to do. To correct a color cast, all I have to do is click on the image. Now the results will depend on where exactly I click. I try to click on part of the image that is supposed to be neutral. That means either gray, white or black. So I'm going to click in several different places and see what kind of results I get. It's a little bit hit-and-miss. First I'll try over here, and that obviously was not a good choice, because the whole image turned greenish blue. So I'll choose something else that looks neutral, perhaps these dark bushes over here and now everything turns magenta, another bad choice.
Now let me try in the snow. Finally, we are getting somewhere. If I want to compare the result that I have now with the way I started, in the Remove Color Cast dialog box, I'm going to click next to Preview to uncheck it and that shows me the original image with its blue color cast and the current image after I have clicked in the snow. So this can be a really valuable command except that there is a little bit of trial and error here, you just have to click around in the neutral areas until you get the result you want. When you are satisfied, you click OK and that applies the change.
Now this isn't the only adjustment I might make to a photo, once I fix the color, I might go into this particular photo and adjust the lighting, perhaps applying a Levels adjustment layer or a Brightness Contrast adjustment layer; but at least I have reduced the color cast. If you shot a photo under less than ideal lighting conditions, like I did here, use the Info palette to check for a color cast, but keep in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong with a color cast. If it's appealing to you then keep it that way, for example, in a sunset shot, 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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