Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Matching color between images, part of Photoshop: Mastering Color Correction (2012).
If you photograph the same subject, under the same lighting conditions, you'll probably want to achieve the exact same color result. But in some cases, circumstances may conspire against you. Perhaps the color was just simply off in the first place, and you've only corrected one of the photos. Or perhaps, you just had different settings for the two images. In any event, I have two images here, one that has, what I would consider to be correct color and another that has incorrect color, but of the same subject. So, if we can just find an area of these images to match up, I think we'll be able to achieve a good result.
I'm going to start off by setting these images side by side, so that we can see both of them. So I'll go to the Window menu and choose Arrange and then 2 Up Vertical. That will give me both images side by side. I'll zoom out just a little bit so we can see more of each image. And I can pan across so that we're looking at more of just the trucks. You'll notice that the colors differ quite a bit. The image on the left looks fairly green. And so we would like to apply an adjustment that corrects for that, making things look more like the image over on the right. Whenever I'm trying to perform color matching between two images, I generally find it's best to focus on a shadow area, a relatively dark area that should be neutral and that we can use as the basis of matching up the two images. I'll go ahead and make sure that I'm working on the image that needs the correction, and then I'll add a levels adjustment layer. So, I will click on the Add Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel and then choose Levels from that pop-up.
I'll then double-click on the gray eye dropper. That gray eye dropper allows me to specify the value that I want to use as the basis of my correction. Essentially the target value that I will assign to the photo. In this case, I'm going to work with the tire. The tire's a nice dark area and it has a pretty obvious color cast. So I think that will work pretty well, as far as an automatic correction, or a relatively automatic correction for the photo. But I need to use the accurate color photo in order to achieve a specific target value. So instead of clicking within the image that I'm correcting, I'm going to sample from the tire in the image that I think is already good. I'll go ahead and click on the tire in that photo. You can see that the color selected is a blue hue, but very, very dark, and relatively neutral, not exactly neutral, but pretty close to it. I'll use that as the basis of my color correction.
So I'll go ahead and click the OK button to close the Color Picker. I'll then be asked if I want to set the particular color that I established for my gray target value as the new default. I do not want to do that because this is certainly not a typical situation. Normally I would use that gray eye dropper to establish a perfectly neutral value in a photo. So I'll click the No button to not change those default settings, and now I'm ready to work with the image that needs the correction. Again, I've adjusted the value for that gray eye dropper.
In other words, I've changed the target for this color correction. And so now all I need to do is click on the tire and that will make the specific area that I click on, match the tire that I used as my source. And I think in this case that's actually achieved a very good result. I'll go ahead and zoom out a little bit more so we can see more of that photo and then I'll zoom out the other image as well. And you can see we now have a much better match between the two images, because I used the tire in my source image as the basis of the adjustment that I've applied to what we'll call the destination image. Of course, I could also switch back to this image and continue using that eye dropper, clicking on various areas of the image.
Try to find the best spot to click to achieve the most accurate color. But in this case, it's proven to be relatively straightforward. I've got a good adjustment. I can certainly continue fine tuning, perhaps darkening the image up a little bit, boosting saturation. But overall the color cast has been removed and we have a good match between the two photos.
- 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