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In an earlier chapter I explained how to use a Levels adjustment layer to correct exposure and contrast, but that's not all that you can do with Levels. You can also use a Levels adjustment to correct color cast in your photos. One way to use Levels to correct color is to use the Levels eyedroppers. This is the same as the eyedroppers in the Curves adjustment. So you can do this technique from either the Levels or the Curves adjustment panel and I like to use Levels and Curves as adjustment layers as you know, but theoretically, you could also do this using Levels or Curves as a direct adjustment.
In the last movie, I applied some color samplers to this image, and in the course of doing that I applied a Levels adjustment layer to the image. I'll open the Layers panel, so you can see that there is now a Levels adjustment layer there. But I haven't yet tweaked any of the settings for this Levels adjustment layer. I am going to do that now in the Adjustments panel. So I'll Double-click the Adjustments tab again to bring the panel back. Notice also that I have three color samplers already on the image. One here in the highlight area, one here in the shadow area and one here in an area that I would like to have be a neutral gray after this color correction.
And as you can see, the entire image is a bit warm. It's got kind of an orange cast to it that I'd like to remove. I took this picture and I've remembered that the walls were a really nice whitewashed color and they didn't actually have this orange glow. Finally, take a look at the Info panel over here, which is giving me three readouts for each of the color samplers. This is for color sampler number one in the Highlight area; this for color sampler number two in the Shadow area and this readout is for color sampler number three in the midtone area.
By the way if your Info panel isn't open, you can open that panel from the Window menu up here at the top of the screen. But the best thing to do, if you are going through this movie, is to make sure that you've also listened to the preceding movie on setting color samplers. Because I'm going to use this color samplers, as I correct colors using the eyedropper tools in the Levels adjustments panel. Those eyedropper tools are right here on the left side of the Levels adjustments panel. The first eyedropper I'm going to use is the White point eyedropper right here. So I select that and then I come over to that color sampler that I said, what I thought was the brightest point in the image and I'll move my mouse over that. If I want to line up my cursor exactly with that color sampler, I can hold down the Caps Lock key on my keyboard, and that changes the icon for the white eyedropper to the same icon as the color sampler. So I can line up those two icons and then I'll click.
As soon as I click there, whatever color cast that was in the pixels under my cursor and any pixels brighter than that in the image has been removed. I've basically set the pixels under the cursor to pure white on the tonal value. And if you look at the Info panel now, you can see that, in the readout for color sampler number one. The left hand part of that readout is telling me the RGB value of that point before I made this change and on the right I see the RGB value of the same point after the change. And 255 is the brightest point on the tonal scale and the fact that these three color values the Red, Green, and Blue values are the same means that I have neutralized that point, so there is no color cast there.
I'd like to do the same thing in the shadow areas over here where I've set color sampler number two. To do that I'll go to the Levels panel and I'll choose the Black eyedropper tool and then I come over into the image, move my cursor on top of color sampler number two. My Caps Lock key is still down, so those two icons lined up just perfectly and I'll click. That's removed any color cast that there was in the dark pixels under my cursor and it set those pixels to pure black. As you can see over here in the readout in the Info panel on the right side for color sampler number two, pure black is 0, 0, 0 on the RGB scale. So this is almost there. And finally, I'll do the same thing for the midtones. I select the gray eyedropper, here in the Levels adjustments panel and then I move into the image and over color sampler number three, and I'll line up those icons and then I'll click and that removes color cast from the midtones.
Now you probably notice that that was a significant change in the image. It looks a little blue right now, and that's just maybe because it was so warm or gold looking just a moment ago. If you look at the Info panel, you can see that, the readout for color sampler number three is almost a neutral gray. There is just a little more Green and Blue in this image than there is Red. Green and Blue makes cyan. So if I wanted this point to be completely neutral gray, I'd have to remove a little bit of cyan from the image. But I think I'm going to leave it for now; it looks just about right to me, except that I think the image is a little dark and so I'm going to come down to my Levels adjustment panel and move to the gray input slider here. As you remember from the earlier movie, about how to use Levels to correct tone, moving the gray slider to the left will make the entire image a little bit lighter.
Now there is one caveat to the technique I just showed you. The Black and White eyedroppers here do more than just remove color from the bright and dark areas of the image. They also set the black and white points for the image. So if you've already done some tonal corrections using Levels or Curves or another method in which you've set the black and white points and you've already got them where you want them, then you are not going to want to use these Black and White eyedroppers, because they are going to reset the black and white points wiping out the work that you did before. So if that's ever the case, then leave the black and white points as they were.
Don't use the Black and White eyedroppers, but feel free to use the Gray eyedropper here in order to remove any color cast from midtones. So that's how to use the Levels or Curves eyedroppers to correct color. There is another way to use Levels to correct color and that's to go into the individual color channels, and I'm going to show you how to do that in the very next movie.
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