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Skill Level Intermediate
Hi! I'm Deke McClelland, best selling author of book and videos on computer graphics, digital imaging and electronic design. I'm here to introduce you to a command, just one command that most of you have never noticed, let alone chosen. This command is a doorway into an alternate version of Photoshop, one that has the power to make bad photographs great and great photographs even better and it goes by the inauspicious name Lab color. Now before I go any farther, I call it Lab color. Others swear by L-A-B. More on that later but no, agree or disagree, my decision to call it Lab is entirely deliberate and I believe the better way to roll.
Lab color is not new. Pre-dating the founding of Adobe a company, Lab made its way into Photoshop more than a decade ago. So why aren't you using it? My guess- because you don't have to. The other color models, RGB and CMYK, those are half do spaces. Your image starts off in RGB, there is no getting around that and if it is bound for pre-press, you have to convert it to CMYK. By comparison Lab color is entirely optional. There is a not a reason on earth to choose it, well unless you want to save time and you want your images to look better.
Lab offers the upsides of less artifacting, less banding, and more vivid colors. In just a few minutes you can take this image and turn it into this and here is the thing, Lab can be a little more intellectually demanding but you can fix an entire image with a single command, usually Levels or Curves, or you can target an image's luminance and color information independently. And once you come to terms with Lab, it is faster. That's right. Lab let you achieve better result in less time. You just got to know what you are doing, which is where I come in.
In this brief introduction I'm going to show you when Lab is helpful and when it isn't. If you have a RAW digital camera file for example, there is no sense running the Lab, but if you have a JPEG or TIF image, Lab is perfect even in concert with Camera RAW. In subsequent chapters I will show you what Lab color is and what it can do. By the end of this series you will know how to work in Lab and your images will look much better for it. Enjoy.