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Based on the device-independent CIE specification from 1976, Lab color is frequently misrepresented as a techy, labor-intensive color space. In fact, Lab color performs certain types of color modifications more quickly and with better results than RGB. In Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color, Deke McClelland explores how to use Lab color "to make bad photographs great and great photographs even better." He demonstrates image manipulations that are best suited to Lab, and walks through a typical, non-destructive Lab correction. Deke also shows how to correct lighting, apply selective color modifications, and reverse the effects of color cast. Exercise files accompany the course.
All right, now that we have applied our gross color cast compensation, let's fine-tune that compensation so that it's exactly what we need it to be or as close to the original scene as possible. I'm working inside of a progress document here called Gross compensation.psd and it's found inside the 04_cast_lighting folder. Let's go ahead and once again double click on that Curves adjustment layer and I'm going to switch over to the B channel, that's where we are going to start things off because yellow is really where the action is happening, mostly we have got to fine tune the yellow information here because we are dealing with an incandescent light source, light coming in from above so it's very warm and we have got these little bits of purple going on, that's the color that's really informing the scene the most.
So, it needs a little bit of additional work. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to click right there in the center of the graph that is the horizontal center of the graph so that we get an Input, we are lifting an Input value of 0 and it's setting the Output to 22 and what I want to do is I just want to elevate the yellows inside this area right here, notice if I drag inside this column, you can see the little bouncing balls right there on that point. In fact if I wanted to I will Backspace, what I could have done is just Ctrl+Click or Cmd+Click in the center of that column to lift that point and then I'm going to elevate it as they say, I'm going to make sure the Input value is 0 and I'm going to elevate the Output value to about 24.
Notice that, that gives us a little bit of additional yellow action. It pops the yellows inside of these columns. So, part of this is making this look like a deliberate modification, so it's not just kind of flaccid yellow, I really want it to pop, I want it to be fairly vivid, even though this is a neutral surface. And so we are making our environment very clear here and our lighting as well. Now I'm going to Ctrl+Tab to that white point value there and I'm going to press the right arrow key a couple of times in order to move that Input value to 59. So, we are mapping 59 to 127 at this point and what we are doing is, we are dragging the highlights down into the right this time in order to compensate for the amount of yellow that we have added by making the highlights just ever so slightly more cobalt and that's going to help with things like this guy's white jersey.
It's going to bring that back into neutrality and then I will Ctrl+Tab to the black point and just check it out and actually when I look at the shadows inside of this image I'm thinking they are pretty much okay, they are neither too yellow or too blue/cobalt there, looking fairly neutral where the B axes is concerned. So, let's get out of the B axis we are done. Let's go over to A and see if we might do a couple of things with that. I'm once again going to lock down the middle point right here and so I'm just clicking right there at that horizontal middle point, it's a vertical line of course but its in the middle horizontally and that sets the Input level to 0 and I'm then going to take the Output level up by pressing the up arrow key a couple of times in order to bring out that carpet, notice it's looking a little sort of low saturation at this point and if we press the up arrow key a couple of times, its going to pop a little bit better and then I'm going to Ctrl+Tab up to the upper right hand point.
Now, we can start moving this guy around, this white point, I can start moving it around in order to adjust for the crimson inside of the scene because it feels like the scene is getting a little green. So, I can bring back some of the crimson color, some of the lavender by dragging this point over to the right and this actually looks pretty darn good. Now, if you are feeling like your scene is still little too green which you might, you could Ctrl+Shift+Tab back to the middle point there. On my screen it looks a little bit too green inside of this area, on a properly calibrated screen it should look good, I'm working on this PC screen that's wandering just a little bit but it should look pretty good on your screen if it's calibrated, but you never know some of these decisions are subjective as well.
If you want to defeat some of the green inside the columns you would raise this center value up and that's going to make the columns more and more crimson and so it's going to defeat that turquoise. Now, I'm going to send that back down to -7 that's what I wanted and then I'm going to Shift+Ctrl+Tab to the first point here, I think we could still do better where the carpet is concerned and we are emphasizing the greens inside the shadow detail a little too much like these banisters for example. So, I'm going to press Shift+Right Arrow, actually a couple of times until I get the Input value to -33.
So I'm going to fool around with the right and left arrow keys until I get that value to -33, which is outputting the -128 and then I think we have some fairly balanced colors going on. The only thing that worries me a little bit is this guy's jacket, this orange jacket. It's just so hot by comparison to everything else in the scene. We have other little orange items that are very hot and this little yellow cap as well. But this guy is such a prominent part of the scene; he's right dead center. So I'm going to Ctrl+Click on him, Cmd+Click in the Mac in order to lift him. There is his point right, that's the point I got for Ctrl or Cmd+Clicking and then I'm just going to press the down arrow key a couple of times in order to reduce that orange slightly and you will see the orange reduce on the fly every time you press the down arrow key, it's very, very sensitive, that's it, looks pretty good to me.
I'm going to click OK in order to accept that modification. This is what the scene looked like before we fine tuned it, so not terribly different but enough different that this is certainly better, definitely warms up the scene and just to give you a sense of what he had before this is our terrible original color cast in bad contrast and everything and this is the much improved version of the scene so far. We still have a few items to take care of like this yellowness back here in the highlights and this weird purplish, lavender stuff, that's going on inside the column.
We will begin to address those issues in the next exercise.
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