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Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 8 of 13

Automated Color Correction and Matching

Ben Willmore

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

8. Automated Color Correction and Matching
Learn to transfer the warm feeling in one photo to an otherwise blandly ordinary image. Also see how to quickly color correct old faded photos.

Lesson Info

Automated Color Correction and Matching

now let's see how we can trick a few other adjustments into. Only thinking about one area, but applying the change to the whole image, I'm going to come in here and apply an adjustment that is in levels in in levels, there is on the right side of auto button, there's more to the auto button than you might think if you go to the upper right uh little menu that's here. There's a choice called auto options in this determines how it's going to think about your image. Should it only think about the brightness of your image? Should do each channel separately, which is going to shift the colours as well. Should it find the light and dark colors within your image which will attempt to apply automatic color correction. Where should it just change brightness and contrast a bit? But with this it's going to think about the entire picture so I'm gonna come in here and tell it to do the monochromatic contrast so it does not shift colors, I'll click OK, And then I'm actually gonna throw away this adj...

ustment layer because it's only setting up the default settings. Now, I don't want to think about the entire brightness range here. I wanted to think about from about this brightness range to what's contained in there. If you look inside this area, this bright area is not included in these slightly darker areas. Might be excluded as well. I'm gonna go back into levels and I'm gonna hit the auto button although I could just go over here if I want different options and choose them from here and say I want that whatever. But now it only thought about this area that was selected, it ignored the area up here. And if I want to get this change but get it to apply to the entire image. Now in my layers panel I just grabbed the layer mask and drag it to the trash. Or I could just fill it with white but now it applies to the entire picture When might use this. Well, oftentimes I scan photographs and let's say it's a 35 mm slide your scanning and it has the little plastic border around it. That's the actual like mount for the slide. Well, if I try to apply any automated color correction to it, it's going to think about that mount which is not part of the actual picture itself. So I make a selection that's only the picture itself excluding the plastic holder that's around the slide but I want to include the plastic holder and the end result. So I go through the technique I just showed you and in the end I dragged the mask to the trash. I mentioned that you can use levels to do automated color correction with those options. Let's actually see how that works and then see how we can also use it to transfer a what I would call desirable color cast from one image to another. Let's take a look here. We have an image that looks like an old faded photo. I'm going to do A levels adjustment layer and I'm going to go to the side menu and choose auto options. This, by the way, is also available in curves. You're welcome to use it there to the options are the same And here I need to tell it to find dark and light colors. That's what turns on automated color correction. And also I should turn on this check box which will also try to neutralize things that are great and I can click OK. And you see it improves this photo quite a bit. But now let's move on because I'm not really trying to automate color correction. What I want to do instead is trick that feature into allowing me to transfer what I'll call a desirable color cast from one image to another. What's a desirable color cast? It would be sunrise, sunset dinner by candlelight, anything that has that warm field. Well, let's go and say we have this as a background we want to use and this is a photo we want to incorporate within it. We want this bird flying across the sky. Well, what I need to do is be able to see both images at the same time. So I'm gonna grab this tab and drag downward so it becomes a floating window and I can see the other window behind it. Then whoops didn't want to combine it back. Just don't drag it near the other tabs at the top of your screen. Don't try to get up here. Uh it'll stay there. Then I'm going to do a levels adjustment layer and I'm going to go to the side menu and say I want to get to my options and in here I'm going to tell it to find the light and dark colors within the image and that when you do turn that on, what it does is it finds the bright party your image and it makes it this color, then it finds the dark part of your image and it makes it that color. But you can click on these to change them. So why not come in here in, Click on the Bright one and then move my mouse onto the other picture. If you just click, nothing will happen. But often if you double click it will pick up the color. Then I click ok, I go to the shadows. I click on its little square, I go to a dark portion of what's in here and a double click on it. So we pick up that color. And if you had it. So you had this turned on, you could use the Middle one as well. And if you found something that would be a shade of gray in here, you could use it, I might be able to come in there and choose this kind of purplish color that's in here somewhere. But I don't know if it's going to be overly useful in this particular situation. The main thing is you can control what colors and you can grammar from a separate picture. It's when you have fine light and dark colors turned on and you have these click OK. And now it'll ask if you want to use those colors forever from now on say no and now we can take this image and drag it over to the other file. Now here's something else. I'm gonna select both layers that are here. I have to unlock the bottom layer to do so I'm going to put them in a folder and then I'm gonna drag this over to the other file. Just drag it over here. And the problem is that adjustment layer that's inside this folder just applies to everything. Watch if I turn off the adjustment layer, look beyond the picture of the bird to that background. Do you see it shifting as well? Well, here's where you want to do something special. If you ever have multiple layers inside of a group which looks like a folder, notice that there's a menu up here at the top and the default is passed through. That means any adjustment layers found within that folder will pass right through the bottom and also affect layers that are not in the folder but change it to the choice called normal. And now that adjustment layer will only affect layers contained within that particular folder and therefore you can drag between documents like that. I might also come in here and just say I want to remove the background on this bird based on brightness. Well, click on the layer contains the bird. We showed you how to do things based on brightness. When we went to blending options in a previous video and in this case I'm going to say make the bright parts of this layer disappear and then I'll split the slaughtered by holding option and I'll get that to nicely fadeout click OK. And now we have it in there. If we did not have that levels adjustment layer that was transferring the general feeling of this photo, it would look like this and I don't think it would look quite appropriate compared to that.

Class Description


  • Precisely match the color of two objects
  • Change black objects to any color.
  • Add drama to dull overcast skies.
  • Apply multiple adjustments in a single adjustment layer.
  • Utilize uncommon settings such as Knockout.


Are you looking to up your adjustment skills so you can be more effective and efficient by utilizing a wider range of advanced features? Do you run into features in Photoshop that you do not utilize such as Knockout Deep, Knockout Shallow, Pass Through mode and wonder how you could utilize them? Then this class is for you.

Ben has been pushing Photoshop to its limits for over 30 years. Learn his best tips and tricks for getting the most out of Photoshop’s adjustments.

You’ll be able to tackle a much wider range of challenges once you expand the range of features you use on a daily basis. You’ll also reduce guesswork while increasing the precision of your adjustments.


  • People who are generally experienced using Photoshop, but want to push their skills to a more advanced level.
  • Those who want to tackle difficult tasks efficiently.
  • People who want to understand the more powerful and less commonly used features in Photoshop.


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (V22.5.0)


As a photographer, Ben Willmore has shot in all 50 states and explored over 80 countries. He has been pushing Photoshop and Lightroom Classic to their limits since the beginning. Ben is part of a select group of non-employees that Adobe trusts with pre-release beta versions of their software so he can have a voice in the future direction of their software. He has written more than a dozen books on digital imaging that have been translated into 9 languages, has written over 100 articles for major magazines, and was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. He has been a featured speaker at events on all seven continents where he has taught well over 100,000 people.

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Alicia Orth

I've been using Photoshop for years and still learned lots of great tips from this class. Would love to see more classes like this.

Eric Johnson

Terrific - lots of great information. Way to go Ben!

Marco Basile

Really enjoyed how succinct and sharp the presentation was. Great information I hadn't seen elsewhere. Thank you Ben.