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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers provides comprehensive Photoshop training targeting the needs of photographers. In this course, author Chris Orwig demonstrates the fundamental skills used to enhance digital photos, including managing and correcting color, sharpening, making selections and adjustments, retouching, and printing from Photoshop. In addition to teaching the techniques that enable photographers to refine and publish their photos, the course includes live-action segments that encourage thinking photographically and shooting with Photoshop’s capabilities in mind. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the things that happens quite often in photography is we take an image, we're really excited about the photograph, then we open it up in Photoshop, and it just doesn't look right. There is some kind of a color shift, or a color problem. Well, one of the things that we need to start to do is to begin to identify color problems. One of the ways that we can do this is by using our Eyedropper tool and also what's called the Information panel. Well, let's go ahead and open up the Info panel. We can do so by navigating to the Window pulldown menu, and then by selecting Info.
Now the interesting thing about this is that there are some numbers here: RGB and CMYK. As I hover over the image, it's going to show me the values for those different areas. Well, one of the things that we know about digital imaging is that if we have equal amounts of Red, Green and Blue, we have neutrality. So let's take a look if this is neutral. Let's do that by setting a Sample Point. We're going to use our Eyedropper tool. You can click on it here. Next, we want to change our Sample Size. For example, the tool will, by default, choose Point Sample.
This is going to sample one little pixel, which really won't work well for us; rather, what we need to do is to choose something like 5x5 or 11x11. Basically, what this does is it says okay, take where I clicked, then look at 11x11 grid around that space and average that out. Because digital images now have so much resolution in them, typically, you want a higher number. I'll go ahead and choose 11x11, and then to set a point, I'll hold down the Shift key, and then I'll click.
I'm setting a point here in this area, because I think that this should be white. When I look at my numbers, it's definitely showing that Red and Green are pretty close, but this Blue Yellow channel, there is a big problem. So I want to correct that problem. I can do so either by going to Levels or Curves, and then using one of the Eyedropper tools. Let's take a look. Well, if I click on Levels, here you can see I have three different eyedroppers. Now I could use the eyedroppers here, or let's delete this layer for a moment by pressing the Delete key, or Backspace key, or I can go to Curves.
Now Curves again, the same three eyedroppers: my Blacks, my Midtones and my Highlights. Now sometimes we're going to use the different eyedroppers in different situations. Yet with this image, because this particular color shift, where I'm seeing it, is really happening in my midtone range - it's not really bright. It's not really dark - I'm going to simply choose the Midtone Eyedropper. Again, I can choose this in Levels or in Curves, and we would get the same results. Next, we'll hover over an area of the image that we think should be neutral, and also an area of the image that isn't super bright or super dark, and then we'll click.
Now when we do that, we're going to see that it made a color correction for us. We can click multiple times here, if we want to. In this case, one of the things that we're seeing is that these numbers are now much closer together. You can see that Red and Green are almost identical. Then we have this Blue over here, which is a little bit high, but nonetheless these are much closer. Well, let's take a look at what happened, or how it made this correction, in the Curves Adjustment layer. If we go to the Red channel, you notice that it modified the red cyan amount; Green channel, the same thing.
When we go to the Blue Yellow channel, it'd be a little bit different. Here, you can see that it had to add some blue. Now if we want to subtly change this color correction, we could, but let's take a look at the before and after first. Click on the Eye icon. Here is before, with that horrible color shift, and now here is after. It's looking a ton better. It's looking as I remember it. There is a lot of nice, pure whites in there. Well, if we want to make any subtle changes, we can, of course, click into this curve. Then go ahead and drag this one way or another.
I'm just going to go ahead and bring this down, so these three numbers are even closer together. Now here we have our before and after. So we can, of course, make corrections like this with Levels or Curves. Well, why then did I use Curves here? Why do I prefer using Curves? Well, I prefer using Curves because we can always make other subtle adjustments by going into the different channels, as we've done so here. Now in this case, I have a really nice neutral color palette, but let's say I want to cool this off even more for effect, bring it back to where it was, and even push it a little bit further.
Now while this isn't pure, perfect color, I am making some subjective decisions here to cool that off even more, to add a little to this overall white and blue feel. So again, as you can see, you can make some objective color enhancements by using your Eyedroppers. Then you can always dig into your different channels, and add to that some other subjective color tweaks in order to change how your images will be displayed.
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