Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Correcting highlight and shadow areas, part of Adobe Camera Raw: Color Correction.
- In this first exercise we're actually going to start performing color adjustments of our images. For this first project we're going to return to this grim glacier image that we completely evaluated in the previous chapter. In fact, most of the images that we're going to be using in this chapter to correct and adjust we previously evaluated so I really want to encourage you to go back to the previous chapter if you haven't made your way through that and go through all the evaluations because our adjustments and discussions are going to start off where those evaluations ended. Go ahead and open up the cropped version of the grim glacier image.
In camera raw it's a .cr2 file so it's a raw file so it'll open right up in camera raw. Remember we discussed cropping the image first so you're doing your evaluation adjustment on just the pixels that you actually want to end up with. Then we set color sampler points here in the white highlight something we thought was a diffused white highlight that is the white snow. By the way in glacier images for those of you who shoot snow and glaciers stay away from the ice because it's blue green. You'll always want to put this on new snow. Alright and we saw by looking at the numbers looking at the histogram big blue color cast here.
Look at the RGB values 90 to 107, 150 right. We know it's dark it's low contrast and we've got a big blue cast. Color sample point number two we set that in the darkest shadow the stillest detail. Basically what we're kind of looking for here is minimum values at 12 or above. Alright first thing we want to do is correct the color. You may wonder, what do you do first? Tone or color? Color or tone? Always always do color first. Balance the colors and then do the tonal adjustments otherwise you end up going back and forth back and forth as you correct color and tone one after the other.
Color first and then tone. So how do we do this? First we'll do qualitatively and then we'll fine tune with some numbers. The histogram is really our guide here. We say well what needs to be corrected? Well the blue is too high, so the main tool that we use here is the temperature and the tint tool that we see right here. So, which one do we start with? The temperature or the tint? You choose the one that has the colors that we're going to be making the adjustments on. We know we've got a lower blue so we're going to use the temperature which is blue to yellow as we see here. You make this adjustment by clicking on this temperature sliding and moving away from the blue, right? We want to reduce blue so we move away from it.
At the same time we're going to watch this histogram. Qualitatively if we just use histograms for adjustments, by the way you can do color cast adjustments all day long just using histograms and get really close once you get good at it. We're going to drag this until and our goal is we want to get these histograms to overlap in the highlight the red, the green, and the blue. We do this by dragging the blue and we keep dragging it. In fact we have to go all the way to the end. There's such a strong blue color cast in this image we have to go all the way to the end.
In fact I've chosen this image for this project for a very specific reason. Because it's possible to kind of go beyond the limits of some of these sliders when you're working in Adobe camera raw. I'm going to show you the solution to that. We have to go all the way over until they really begin to overlap. It looked like the blue is still offset a little bit to the right. Let's go over here to our numbers and see what we've got now. 113, 114, 119, we've come pretty close. We can't go any further. Blue is still noticeably high. What would you do in a circumstance like this? Well, let me take you to a little side trip to curves.
When all else fails go to curves, by golly! A little bit later on we're going to do a complete curves adjustment but in this case I'm going to show you how to fine tune and really go beyond the sliders. We go to the blue channel, right because that's what we want to reduce some more. Go to the highlight end and then hit the down arrow on your keyboard while you watch the blue value in the upper left hand corner. You'll lower that until those values are just about equal. So again everything's right at 114 115. You can go beyond the sliders by using curves. Curves is the ultimate control tool.
Alright so there we go. So we've colored balanced and notice things look much better already. You can hit the Q key by the way to do a before and after. You can keep toggling on the Q to get multiple before and after views. If that's annoying you can go Q, then Shift-Q to just go back to the previous view. Okay. So, 114 114, these need to be up and around 242 right if we want a nice bright white diffuse highlight. You can choose another target value if you want. If you don't want it quite that bright that's fine go to the high 230's.
That's going to be our goal today. Number two value the shadow down here we're not so interested in color balance down there because it's so dark and we don't know that it's neutral anyway. Probably not it's dirt. We see the values are a little bit low. These should be a minimum of 12. What do we do next? Well, the next question is what do we start over here? Do we go to exposure which is what a lot of people do. Bad idea. I rarely if ever begin an adjustment with exposure and the reason is and here again the histogram is our guide, notice how when we go to exposure those values move all the way.
Everything moves over. All the tonal value. It's a bludgeon! It takes everything in the mid-tone, in fact the whole data set all the tonal values and moves them. I prefer a scalpel. Let's go to the whites which are the lightest portions of the image not the highlights. Not in Adobe camera raw terminology. That's really quartertone data. We can make an adjustment there but it doesn't give us enough room to move. But the whites we choose the whites end and we can drag this all we can move most of that data the highlight quartertone data all the way over. Notice that the three quartertone shadow data stay put which is why we want to use the white slider rather than exposure.
We'll get it close and then we'll monitor our RGB values here. We want to get those values close to 242. Notice that when you drag that slider this value here becomes highlighted so you can get it close then you can use your up and down left and right arrow to kind of fine tune what your values are going to be. We want get this close to 242. Low 240's high 230's. If we want to get these values exactly right we can go back to curves and fine tune the red green and blue channels. We'll do a little bit more of that later. Alright high 230's low 240's we're pretty close to being neutral right here.
Which is pretty good. Big difference let's hit the Q key. See before and after. Let's work on the blacks a little bit. The blacks are the very darkest end. Notice they are a little bit too dark here. We're going to click on the black slider which selects this value right here and then we'll just hit the up arrow until we get the values above 12 which is about a 5% white highlight. So, big difference! Hit the Q to see before and after in terms of doing the color correction on this image vs. the original one. We've done basic tone and color. The next project we're going to come back to this image.
We're going to start off at this particular point so you might want to just hold this image. We're just going to do a little bit of brightness and contrast fine tuning on this image once we've done our color correction. So Shift-Q and onto brightness and contrast for your next project.
- Working between Camera Raw, Photoshop, and Lightroom
- Evaluating color
- Identifying color casts by the numbers
- Making white-balance adjustments
- Setting critical highlights and shadows
- Adjusting skin tones
- Applying creative adjustments
- Correcting multiple images