Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Balancing a specific color, part of Mastering Color Correction in Photoshop.
When you're working on optimizing color in your photographic images, you might have a tendency to focus on the overall image. Even if you're really paying attention to a particular color, you might be adjusting color for the entire image. An you might even assume that if you wanted to apply an adjustment that only affected a particular area of the photo, that you needed to use a Layer mask. And that's actually not true, if the area that you want to adjust can be identified based on the color values. In this photo for example, perhaps I'd like to adjust the color for the flowers just a little bit. I can use a Hue Saturation adjustment to apply color correction to just that area of the photo based on the colors.
This, is one of the reasons that the Hue Saturation adjustment continues to be incredibly valueable, even though, for many photographers, myself included, the Vibrance adjustment has replaced the saturation portion of Hue Saturation. But that's when we're working on all colors in the photo, on the entire image all at once. When we want to focus our attention on a specific range of colors, Sue Saturation just can't be beat. I'll start off by adding a new adjustment layer for hue saturation. So I'll click on the Add Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel, and then choose Hue Saturation from the pop up menu.
On the Properties panel, I now have the adjustment controls for Hue Saturation, but by default, these adjustments will affect the entire image. So it will affect all colors throughout the photo. But that's because we're working on the master channel. If I click the pop-up you'll see that not only do I have a master channel, I also have individual color channels. These represent the additive and subtractive primary colors. So, we have the Reds, Greens and Blues as well as the Cyans, Magentas and Yellows. What I want to do is select the channel that I think represents the color that I'd like to adjust.
For these lilacs I think magenta is probably the most dominant color there. Somewhere between red, magenta, and perhaps a little bit of blue. So I'll start off with magentas. And then I'm going to apply an exaggerated adjustment so that I can get a better sense of which portion of the image I'm affecting. In most cases I'll simply reduce saturation all the way down to it's minimum value. And you can see that for the most part the lilacs have now turned a shade of grey. But there are still some portions of the lilacs where I can see some color. And so I need to adjust the color range that I'm affecting.
What's happening here is that Photoshop has decided what it thinks magenta is and the lilacs go a little bit beyond that range. The specific range is represented between the two rainbow gradients at the bottom of the Properties panel. The two vertical bars represent the range of colors that are being comlpletely affected by this adjustment. In this case, mostly magenta's of course. Outside of those vertical bars, you'll see a couple of shapes that indicate the extent of feathering or of the transition between areas that are being completely affected and areas that will not be affected at all. Again, based on color values within the photo.
In this case, I think I need to expand the color range over toward the right so that we get more of the reds included in that selection. And I want to maintain a little bit of transition. So rather than only moving the vertical bar or perhaps, only moving the outer shape. I'll point my mouse in between the two shapes and then click and drag in order to move that construct. So, I'm able to change the range of colors that I'm affecting, just by moving these controls. If I move over toward the left, narrowing the range of colors that are being affected, you'll see that most of the lilacs now retain their color, with just a few areas that are showing up in grey. I'll go ahead and move these controls over toward the right, though. And I want to just expand enough so that I'm including the adjustment for all of the colors, all of that range for the lilacs which essentially is purples and reds.
That looks to be pretty good. At that point, I'm also going to increase saturation just so that I can get a better since of any other areas of the photo that are being affected. And so I'll boost the saturation all the way up. And you'll notice that some of the rooftops over on the right side of the photo are also showing up some color. And that's because there are some red and slightly pinkish elements in the roof probably reflected from the sky. Or perhaps a little bit of atmospheric scatter caused by moisture in the air. In any event, I don't think that those areas are going to be a problem. Because for the most part, they're neutral areas. They are relatively gray.
They just have a little bit of color that's showing through with this exaggerated adjustment. So I'll go ahead and bring my saturation down to a more level. I'll keep it a little bit increased in terms of saturation, but then I'm going to shift the Hue. And now you can see that I'm able to change the color of those flowers. In essence, taking anything that had been purple in the image before and changing it to a completely different color. In other words for all intents and purposes, applying a color balance adjustment to a specific range of colors within the image. I can make the colors look a little more purple to blue. Or I can take the adjustment over to the right a little more and have them look a little more reddish to pink.
The point is that we can effect quite a significant change on just the narrow range of color values. It's important to keep in mind that in most cases, you'd want to apply a relatively modest adjustment. We don't want to get too exaggerated and create an artificial appearance in the photo. But of course in many cases the colors in the image may not look entirely accurate and just a little bit of adjustment. Focusing on a specific range of colors can make all the difference in the world.
- Configuration considerations
- Evaluating color
- Basic color for raw images
- Essentials of color balance
- Vibrance vs. saturation
- Adjusting temperature in Lab mode
- Strong color cast removal
- Focused color corrections
- Color matching