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In Photoshop CS4: Color Correction, digital imaging expert Taz Tally explains how to quickly evaluate whether an image needs a color correction or adjustment. He explains the fundamentals of color images and demonstrates how to set color workflow preferences. Designers, production staff, and photographers will discover quick and accurate evaluation and correction techniques to speed up their workflow in the fast-paced production environment. Exercise files accompany the course.
Well, if you are a car buff, you will recognize this as an Edsel. I took these pictures, bright sunshine, knew I was going to have a colorcast. Also knew I could fix it in Photoshop. So let's take a look. I mean this image doesn't look bad. That's for sure. But I think we can do better. First of all, let's do our visual evaluation as always. The critical portion of this image is obviously the car and boy, that nice red color, we want to make sure we can bring that out. Any neutral areas in this image? Now you betcha. You will look at the white tires here, the white roof here, the white building in the background.
Who cares about that? Nobody. So, are there any problem areas? Well, sure. Look at the background, it's blown out. In fact, when I bring my INFO tool up here, let me do an eval of this. Notice we've got everything in the high 250s. So it's completely blown out. Now, we could make a selection like we could go the Magic Wand tool and select the car here and select the background and try to edit them separately and that's all possible. We are not going to do it. Why? I got too much kayaking to do, not all this selection stuff, particularly a difficult selection.
So, what we are going to in fact do is we are just going to leave that area pretty the much the way it is, but we are not going to make it any worse. That's the sacrifice area in the image. That's obviously one of the lightest portions in the image. But it's not something we are going to use as the diffuse white highlight, are we? No. We're going to try to find some neutrals in this image that are more important and one of them likely is going to be down here in this white wall tires. These white walls, we want to make sure they are neutral. Are they going to set at 5%? No, we are not going to set them at 5%. In fact, it would be a mistake to set those at 5%.
One, it would blow out the rest of this image horribly, which would draw the eye too much to it. And two, look at this is in the shadow. So it's going to be neutral, but it's not going to be 5% white highlight. But we'll treat that as the diffuse white highlight or quarter tone, let's say, and then see if we can find some other areas. Let's just dive right in and see if indeed that turns out to be one of the light critical areas in the image. We'll go to Command+M, bring up our Curves, and notice we got all of this stuff popping out there. Holy smokes! What's all that all about? Notice these are...
What are they? That's right, specular highlights. The reflections of bumpers. They are supposed to be blown out. That's cool! We are focusing in on the area that we have identified. Here again is where judgment comes in. If all you're taught is, well, set the lightest portion of the image at 242, we'll be trying to set this at 242 and everything else in the foreground is going to go too dark and we don't care about that anyway. So, yeah, it's all about properly evaluating the image, and we have identified those white tires as some place we want to make neutral. We are not sure what the value is, but by golly, we know.
Let's just check to make sure. Oops! That's not that tire, is it? The tire is up here. It'd be easy to set that there. Where is the lightest portion of that tire? There it is. There is that puppy. So we'll put our Color Sampler point right in the middle of that and then we'll Command+Period to get rid of all that. Command+0 to go up to the full screen preview. Nice! Anything else that's a neutral? We've got the white highlight. Anything else? Well, you know chrome is basically neutral and when you set chrome neutral that looks very nice. So let's do that.
Let's look for something in the chrome that we can make neutral and let's go back to our Eyedropper tool and it would be nice to find something around the midtone. Look at this right here and look at our RGB value there, 91, 112, 133. There is a green at 120. Let's do that one. Shift-click to set the Color Sampler point and any place else you have the darker in the chrome? Well, look at this. This is the chrome accent along the side of the hood and we are getting reflection of the black driveway right here.
So we could either go after the black driveway or better yet, let's go after the reflection of the black driveway in the chrome, because that's what we really want to be neutral is the chrome. So we'll set our third point there. Nice! And then we'll go create our Curves adjustment layer. Good. What do we want to correct first? Well, let's go take a look at our highlight and look at those highlight values, because we are not sure what they need to be. Remember, we're not going after the 242. We have got what, 213, 227, 232.
Why don't we use the blue, since that's the highest value? Why don't we use the blue as the target value? In this case, we are not going to use the middle, although it wouldn't make too much difference here, would it? Because green and blue are so close. But in this case, because we are not setting it to white highlight, because the white highlight is out here and it's blown out and it isn't the shadow. So we want it to be neutral. We want it to be pretty light. So let's do 232. That's getting up there. I mean you might decide, hey, I want to make that 235. That's okay too. It's really kind of up to you as to which way you want to go. So let's go Option+3 to bring up the red channel and then hit the plus or the equal sign and let's start moving this back to 232 and see what happens.
Look what happened. See that background of that image is starting to get lighter. You know what? Maybe we should use the red value as the target instead. Let's use the red value. Let's shoot for 213, you know why? Because then, we won't be lowering the overall highlight values of this whole image and this area here won't blow out anymore. Okay, good solution. So let's go to the good green channel and we are going to lower that. I'm just using my Down arrow and then Option+5 to go to the blue channel and because we already selected the highlight point earlier in the red channel all of the other channels were automatically selected.
So lot less mousing around. There we go. Now notice that we have now neutralized the very important portion of our image, but we haven't blown out any more of the rest of the image. So it prevents us from having go in and select that and do all that nonsense. All right, cool! So, what's next? Well, number 2, point number 2, and let's Command+Shift or Ctrl+Shift on Windows. Click. That puts a Color Sampler point on all three channels, boom, boom, boom, right around the midtone and let's look at our values here, 102, 116, 132.
We are around the midtone. Which one do we use for our target value? That's it, the green channel, because that's the middle one. Here we absolutely will use the middle. So we'll go to blue, since we are already there, let's just go ahead and lower that down to 116 and then Option+3 to go the red channel. See these points are already selected for us. And we'll raise that 116, very nice and then finally, let's go Command+Shift on point number 3. That's such a handy shortcut to use that and we are at 59, 52, 48.
So again we are going to use the green channel. We are in the red channel, so let's lower that to 52, and then we'll go to the blue channel and raise that to 52. Nice! There we go. So what we've done is we have neutralized the critical neutral portion to this image, which we by evaluating the image, went after the tire, a neutral portion in the chrome and then the three-quarter tone in the chrome. Now look at the difference in this image, before and after, and watch the chrome in particular. Before and after, before and after. See, how much nicer that chrome looks.
Now notice we have overall brightened this image as well. We might come back into the master curve, Option+2 and click on the midtone, and in this case, make it just a little bit darker, just a little bit darker and then go to the quarter tone, bump up the quarter tone, go to the three-quarter tone, drag that down a little bit. Now let's take a look at it before and after. Ooh! That's looking rich. That's looking saturated. That's nice. Could we add a Hue/Saturation layer to this? Yeah, but we are not going to. We are cool the way it is.
Then of course we'll throw a Sharpening layer on there, I won't take time to do that now, but let's just look aside by each comparison of these. Look at the improvement, look how that chrome pops now, where it didn't before. All right, here is something we can do. I shot multiple versions of this image. Let's go ahead and open these and by the way working through Bridge you select multiple images, you just hit the Enter key and it will open up both images and the nice thing about having corrected this first image, and we'll just put these down here, is that we can then take the correction from this and we can Save Curve Preset, and we'll call this the Edsel correction and click Save, and then we are going to open this image, we are going to add an adjustment curve to it and then we are just going to come underneath Curves and choose Edsel, boom! Come underneath this image, add a Curve's tool, and choose Edsel. Boom! Notice we got automatic correction of all those images, because they were shot into similar lighting circumstances.
It works like a champ. So, anytime you have multiple images like that, you can do the correction on one, save the Curves and then apply those same Curves to the other images in the group. So now we've got a really cool looking Edsel.
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