By far the most common problem that you'll encounter in your digital photographs is color cast. In other words, the colors in your photograph are not quite representational of the colors in the original scene, and they are as a whole, leaning in a certain direction. So there's a color bias to the image. Now the first step in correcting for a color cast is to gauge what that cast is. In other words, what is the prevailing color that shouldn't be there? And the easiest way to find that color is to locate a neutral image element in the photograph, that is an object that ought to be white or gray and then eye drop it.
Let me show you what that looks like. I'm zoomed in quite a bit here, but if I scroll down inside this image I'll locate a neutral item which is this white pillow. It's not really white in the photograph, because there's shadows and shading going on, and there's even spots where the pillow might be reflecting some of the colors off the wall, but as a rule, the pillow ought to be neutral. That is, it shouldn't have any color bias at all. But obviously there is some kind of bias. And to gauge what that bias is I'm going to switch to the Eyedropper tool which allows me to lift colors inside Photoshop.
You can also get to that tool by pressing the I key, and incidentally if the last tool you used was a Ruler back in Chapter 6, then you can go ahead and select the Eyedropper from the Ruler tool flyout menu. Now by default, the Eyedropper lifts the color of the pixel on which you click, just that one pixel. If you'd like to average more of a generalized area, which is probably a good idea, then you go up to the Sample Size option up here in the Options bar and switch to something like 5 by 5 Average. So in other words, we're sampling the average of 25 pixels at a time.
Then go over to your Color panel, make sure it's up. If not, choose the Color command from the Window menu. Click on the flyout menu icon and make sure that you're looking at the HSB Sliders; Hue, Saturation, and Brightness. And then, drop down to the pillow and click on it. Notice as you click, and I'm clicking and holding here, you'll get a ring that showing you the old foreground color down at the bottom, which is black by default and a new foreground color up at the top, and you can see that it's some sort of beige. I'm going to go ahead and release and now I'm going to check out the hue value, which is 32 degrees for me, it maybe something slightly different for you, but it should be something around that area and what that tells me is that's orange.
This image has an orange color cast. Now very likely you look at 32 degrees and you don't think immediately orange, because after all you probably don't have every single one of the hues memorized, and that's okay because I'm including a document for you called Hue locator.psd. And what it shows is all the hue values mapped on a 360 degrees circle which is one of the ways to express the visible color spectrum. And notice that 0 degrees starts over here on the right side of the circle and then we proceed around the 360 degrees circle in a counter-clockwise direction.
I've marked off each of the 30 degree increments just to give you a sense of what's going on. I've also labeled the colors, although that's not really all that important. What matters is that you can see the color at any given location. So right there at 30 degrees. Not only have I included a label of orange, but you can see that the color is orange as well right there in the circle. And that's how you go about identifying a color cast in Photoshop. In the next movie, I'll show you how to correct for color cast.
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