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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, that stuff we saw in the previous chapter, pretty amazing, but while such extreme examples help to demonstrate the range and versatility of Lab, they don't quite tell the whole story. Your more typical photo would be one that looks neither great nor terrible but somewhere in between. Compositionally for example, it might be fine but the contrast is a bit lackluster, the colors are drab. Simply put the photo fails to live up to the image you saw when you pressed the shutter release. In this chapter, we will explore a very typical color correction scenario and you'll see just how strange and wonderful Lab can be. We will convert an image to Lab. We will apply a couple of adjustment layers one of which I think will very much surprise you.
We will turn the image into a Smart Object and sharpen it and then we will turn that Smart Object into an RGB image so we can resolve it's chromatic aberrations, you'll see, while all at the same time keeping the larger composition in Lab. It sounds weird and complicated but it is actually fairly straightforward and amazingly flexible. It is like every single nondestructive function in Photoshop working together, adjustment layers, blending options, Smart Filters, color models, all coexisting so that you can tweak the images as much as you like without harming a pixel and the result is a much improved, much more accurate depiction of the scene.
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