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Lightroom is a great choice for color correction. In this course, photographer and educator Taz Tally details the concepts, tools, and techniques behind correcting and enhancing color in Lightroom. Learn to evaluate the color in an image with the Develop module tools, Lightroom's histograms, and (crucially) your own eyes. Then discover how to use the color correction tools to balance and tone adjust an image, using tried and true techniques like neutralization and color ratios. Taz then takes you through a variety of color correction scenarios, from improving landscapes, fixing skin tones, and recovering faded images to making product shots pop, removing color casts, and making creative color adjustments.
In this project, I'd like to show you how to perform a color correction with a whole different tool than we've been using. We've been using the basic tone tool set, which gives us color temperature adjustment as well as tonal controls. In this one I'd like to show you how to use curves inside of light room and if you're a Photoshop user you are probably used to using curves. And maybe you'd like to bring some of those skills over and use them in Lightroom. And this is how you can do it. So we're going to use this landscape image. And let's go ahead and make a virtual copy of that. Command and then apostrophe.
And then let's take that to the develop module. And let's look at what we've got here. Well, we've got a landscape image. This is Mount Iliamna. And pretty good looking image. It is a little flat. And that's because of the relatively low contrast. No highlight or quarter-tone data to speak of. Most of it's from the mid-tone down to the three-quarter-tone. So we know we can adjust that. And we look at the histogram and we see, we suspect that there's a little bit of a red-yellow color cast here. And when we take our cursor and we move it over the image to read the RGB value, 64, 66, and then 60, right? 66 red, 64 green, and then 60 blue, sure enough there's a red-green color cast.
So this is probably early sunset image, in fact that's when it was taken. Just the beginning of sunset, and it's not wrong, there's nothing wrong with this color cast, but if your project called for an image that was bright white and this was the image you had, we're going to put some type up on top for an ad or something. Then we want to be able to correct the color of this. So, rather than using the basic toolset, which is what we have been using, there is one thing I'm going to use out of here and that is my little eye dropper, because I like it so much. And then we're going to go down to the tone curve. And this is probably a tool that you have seen before.
And the tool that you've probably seen if you've looked underneath the tone curve, is this one right here. This is probably what it looks like. And you can see this highlights, it lights dark to use a little bit different terminology than the other part of the interface. But, at any rate, you can use this to make adjustments to the overall tone of the image. And you can see it works on the various portions of the tonal range, for just tone. But what about color? These are all composite adjustments. And unless you know to click here you'd never know what to do. But right down here there's a little icon that has a curve with a little control point on it.
Click on that and boom, that's where you get access to the individual channels. So this is when we can go to the red, the green, and the blue channel in order to adjust them separately to do our color cast adjustments. Alright, well first let's start with the RGB. And let's just drag this over here, make sure we turn on our clipping, and then drag this point over here until we start to see where the diffuse white highlights are, we can see them at top of the mountain. So we know where they're going to be, and let's go ahead and Cmd+ to move in. So we know, we're going to be, say, measuring right in here so we can see what our RGB values are.
Okay. So we use a similar technique to what we've used before to identify where in this case the diffused bright highlight is at the top of the mountain. Now we'll go to the individual channels, the red channel, and we know that we've got a red green color cast here with the red and the green higher than the blue. So, what we're going to do is what we normally do with curves, we're going to take our highlight point and we're going to move it over and we're going to use two things. One, the position of the start of the data here. It's a little difficult to see, but also the histogram here, which is very obvious.
And as we move our highlight point, we can see where we start to run into that data problem. If we've got our clipping turned on, we can see that as well up on the image. Now, notice, when we do a curve adjustment, one of the nice things is, when we work on individual channels, we're not only doing a color adjustment, but we're doing a tone adjustment at the same time. So, I can move this over, to the beginning of this data, and then I can measure my RGB data there, if that's what I want to make sure that we have at 94, 95, there we go. And then we'll go to the green channel.
I'm just going to go ahead and turn off my clipping for right now, because I know that's the value that I want to get right on the money there. In terms of my 5%, 95, 96 for the green. And then for the blue we'll drag it over here like this. Just to the start. And I'm watching both the histogram and notice once we start doing the blue we get that gray histogram starting to move over. So we can use both for the position of the blue histogram in curves. And the gray histogram that we see up here to help guide us to make this position.
So we're at about 92, move it a little bit more and then we get right at about 95%. We'll press command minus to take our image back down and there we've basically done our color correction of our image and our tonal adjustment. There's the before and there's the after which we get by pressing the Y key. So you have complete control over tone and color using curves. Just like you do in Photoshop. Now one of the other advantages of working with curves is it allows you to work on any tonal position of your image at any time that you want to.
Now notice that when you make an adjustment like this is that most of the adjustment occurred from terms of the color correction up at the highlight end. Notice here's the original line. And you can see as the two approach each other and actually intersect at the bottom. Which means there's more correction at the highlight than there is at the mid-tone. So in an image like this, then we might come over here and look at some of the mid-tone areas and go, oh, look, there's still a bit of a color cast here. It's not as great because we've had some adjustment, but there's still a little bit of color cast, 50, 50, and then 49.
53, 52, 51, so there's a little bit that we might still do here. And one of the nice tools that we can activate here in Lightroom is we can click here Area Specific Tools, we can activate, since we're on the blue channel, right? We can then pull up the blue values as we see here, pull up or down. The value of the image to match the RGB values that we want. And notice we can watch the RGB values right here, as we move our blue channel either up or down to balance the color specifically.
So here, we'll move it down to a, just slightly up a little bit so everything's going to be right at about 53. Here we go. By the way if you get a point on here do you happen to like get a second point. You can just drag these points just right off to the side. Get one too many and you can just start over and just put another one on there and make sure that everything is just right where you want it to be. So we can drag right on the image and make sure that we've got our blue in the mid-tones to match the red, the green, and the blue values that we had in the highlight. All right. And then finally, when you get done with your color correction, then you can come and we can work on overall brightness and contrast, which of course is very powerful to be able to do this.
You can click on the middle to overall brighten or darken and on this one I might want to overall darken just a little bit. And then let's say that I'd like to say darken the foreground a little bit more from the background to create a little bit more contrast and sense of depth. Well, in this case what I can do is I can place a couple of control points here and then I can overall darken that foreground. And if I really want to separate the water and the foreground rocks, I'll put another control point there, and then just darken the three-quarter domed shadow. And notice what I'm doing here is I'm just, by the way, a little bit goes a long way on something like this right.
I want to just darken that foreground just ever so slightly. There we go. So there's doing a curve-based adjustment, and all the concepts are the same, we're still adjusting the individual channels, we're just doing it differently. Here we're working on individual channels rather than on the color intense sliders like we were earlier. We're accomplishing the same tonal adjustment for just using curves instead of the sliders that we used in the basic panel.
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