Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Evaluating overall tone and color, part of Adobe Camera Raw: Color Correction.
- In this chapter, I really want to focus primarily on image evaluation. I don't want to muddy the waters by actually doing some corrections because if you really gain some skill in learning how to evaluate your images, it's going to make your color correction and color adjustment tasks so much easier because you won't be floundering around trying this and that, you will really develop a workflow and a path for doing your correction and go right to it. So go ahead and open up your folder 02_01, and we're going to work on this image here called the the Grewingk Glacier Ski.
And noticed it's a .cr2 file, which means that it is a raw file format and we're working in Bridge, so all we need to do is just double-click on it. You do not have to right-click and then open in Camera Raw since it's a raw file already. You just double-click on it, it will automatically open in Photoshop CC, or the Photoshop version of Camera Raw. And just to remember, we're just going to click Done, and let's go back there. If you do right-click and then open in Camera Raw, nothing wrong with that, in fact it'll open in Camera Raw in Bridge.
So if you had something that you were, say, applying in Photoshop or doing in Photoshop in the background, you can still go to Camera Raw and work right out of the Bridge version of Camera Raw. So either way works fine, you just work in two different versions but exactly the same Camera Raw application. Okay, first thing you might want to do is just come right up here and click this icon here which brings you to full screen mode. It just gives you a little bit more room to work and also takes away some of the clutter. I always like to do that.
All right, so image evaluation. When we're about to do a color correction... And typically, when we talk about doing color correction, it is not just color, it's tone in addition to color. One of the first things that I do before I even begin to evaluate any of the tone and the color, is I look at the composition of the image and see if it is what I want. Because you may be, say, placing some color samples points here and there, and if you decide to crop the image later on and you go, "Ooh, wait, I just knocked out "one or two of my critical color sampler points, "because I have cropped them out of my image." So the first thing I recommended that you do is go ahead and crop your image.
So let's just go to the crop tool, you can click up here or just type the C key to go to the crop tool and then you can just draw a quick version of the crop because it is fully editable. And here, we're going to knock out some of that sky which is not very interesting. We're not going to tug it too close to the top of the mountain range here, these are Southern Kenai Mountains by the way, and this is Grewingk Glacier, which is right across Kachemak Bay and I ski in here a lot during the winter and do some photography and skiing in the lake, and it's just absolutely beautiful. So we may decide to crop out most of the sky and then some of the foreground.
Then you can just hit the Enter key if you want to. And at any time, you can come back and re-crop. You notice the crop handles come up and go, "You know, I really don't even like that rock, "I'm going to take that out," whatever you like. All right? Choose the crop that you want, you can always come back. And keep in mind, this is all nondestructive editing, right? The actual crop to the actual pixels does not occur until you export your image, so it's completely redoable. All right, so we'll crop our image, get this a little bit cleaner and simpler with more concentration and focus in the glacier, which is what this image is all about.
So there we go, always remember to do that. Work you composition first, get the crop the way you want it so you've got pixels and image that you're actually going to work with. So first thing I like to do is after we crop and worry about the composition, to say, all right, what's the overall tone, the look and the feel of this image? And just looking at the image visually, I always start visually, and then we'll move over to and work in our histogram. Obviously, overall, the contrast of this image is pretty low, and we can see that the image is pretty dark so we suspect that there aren't a lot of maybe highlight to midtone values.
So we know we'd like to improve that. Now although it is difficult and the human eye is not particularly good at evaluating color, because I have looked at so many images, this image looks like it has a blue color cast to me. And also, because I know I shot this in low light conditions, and blue tends to be captured a little bit more, being a little bit richer in low-light images than the red and the green, that is what I am suspecting. That is the overall visual evaluation of this image. We've cropped it, we know it is dark, it is low contrast, and we suspect there's a blue color cast.
But if you do not suspect any color cast at all, that is fine because there's lots of images where you do not suspect a blue color cast, because that's all you've got to look at, is the image. This image just happens to have a little bit more blue in it than maybe others. And really, the quantitative aspect, and this is kind of a semi quantitative aspect of our evaluation of our image, really begins when we look over here at the histogram. And if you are not familiar with histograms, I really encourage you to go and review my Color Correction: Fundamentals course. I really, really dive into histograms in some depth there.
Just a quick review, starting from the right hand side to the left hand side, it is the tonal range of the image from highlight to quarter tone, to midtone, to three-quarter tone to shadow. And when we look at this histogram, we see, there's almost no data from the highlight, all the way down to the midtone. So that kind of corroborates our visual evaluation. The histogram tells us, "Wow, there's no data in here at all." When we look at the shadow end, we see shadow is not too bad, right? The data comes almost all the way up. How close does it get? We'll see in just a few movies where we talk about quantitative or numeric evaluation of our images.
But we see overall why this image is dark and why it is low contrast. It's dark because all of the data exists from midtone to shadow. And it's also low contrast for the same reason, is instead of having data all the way from the shadow all the way up to the highlight, a good wide tonal distribution of data, everything is from 50% to 100% or from midtone to shadow. So we know that we're going to want to make that kind of adjustment. We are going to want to certainly expand the tone to overall brighten this image. And it is going to improve contrast when we do that. Now how about color? When we looked at the image, we thought, "Oh, it looks like it might have a blue color cast," and indeed, we see that it does.
One of the really nice things about histograms, not only do they give us a really good idea of what the tonal distribution is, but because here we see the red, the green and the blue, and here you get the yellow because of the overlap in the green and the red, but the three we primarily pay attention to here in particular are the blue, the green and the red. We see the blue is offset way to the right of the green, which in turn is offset a bit to the red, indicating that there's a strong blue or blue green color cast in this image. We always look at the highlight end. We typically look at the highlight end because that's where we can see the color cast in the image.
It shows us most readily in the highlight. So our overall evaluation of this image then is that yeah, it is dark, low contrast, shadow values look like they are pretty good, but almost no highlight to midtone values. But good news here is we do not see any big spikes either on the highlight end, which of course we would not see here because there is no data, but we do not see any spikes in the shadow end. We only look for that because that indicates lost data, right? On the highlight end, it is blown out data; and it is lost data on the shadow end. We'll get a chance to see some of those a little bit later on in the course.
So that is our overall evaluation of the image using our, first, a crop to do the content, then we do a visual evaluation of tone and color; and then we use our histogram to really start to nail that down. And in a couple of movies, we're going to add some numbers to this evaluation as well.
- 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