Advanced Color Concepts and Techniques in Photoshop


Advanced Color Correction in Photoshop


Lesson Info

Advanced Color Concepts and Techniques in Photoshop

So now, let's come in here and fix some images. So first off, I mentioned white balance and Camera Raw, and how we had a single eyedropper, you click on something that should be a shade of gray, the brightness is not essential. But in general, it's best if you stay away from things that are really close to white, and really close to black. Just because, do you remember what happens to color when you get it to those brightness ranges of black and white? The color starts disappearing, there's not much information in there. So as long as you largely try to stay away from the absolute brightest and the absolute darkest areas, you can click on anything in your image that should be a shade of gray when you use this eyedropper up here called white balance. And if you try to use an area that it thinks is too bright, like I'm gonna go right for in here. And if you look in here, take a look at the RGB numbers on the right side of my screen. The highest those numbers can go to is 255. So if all t...

hree numbers are 255, that means all three are as high as they can go, that means you have white. So when I try to click here, well it's not doing, there. It will usually tell you, hey, that's too bright. There's just not enough color information in there for it to pick up anything. And so, if you go from really bright areas, like if I go right down in here, it's not quite white, if you look at the numbers, the RGB numbers, they're not as high as they could go. So it's not white, but It might still be too bright. No, it worked. It tried. But, in this particular image, we have mixed light sources. Let me set this over here to daylight. That'll bring me back to what the colors actually looked like when I'm standing there. Notice in the distance, over here. Do you see a streetlight? Can you tell the color coming out of that streetlight? Especially when it hits this building. It's got a yellowish feel, but it's more of a greenish, yellow, isn't it? Well, I believe there's another one of those streetlights over here at the edge of this parking lot for this gas station. And it's what's lighting the side of the building. And that's a different color of light than these bulbs that are installed in the building itself. So, if I use my white balance eyedropper, and I click here, 'cause this is a surface that was painted white, it compensates for the color of light hitting that, but now I screws up the color of light over here. This side of the building is also painted white, but it's got a different color of light hitting it. If I compensate for it by clicking here, it screws up the other part. So, if you ever have a room that has mixed light, you have light coming in a window on one side, and then you have a table lamp sitting on the table. Well, there's gonna be two different colors of light there, and we can compensate for one or the other with the white balance eyedropper, but not both. In order to compensate for both, here's what we can do in Camera Raw. I would first compensate for whichever light source lights the majority of the scene. Do that with the white balance eyedropper. Secondly, come up here and grab this tool, it looks like a paintbrush. There are two of them that look like a paintbrush, one has specks around it, the other doesn't. You want the one without the specks. Then, in this area, you want to reset any of these settings that are not set to zero. Meaning, just make sure you don't have any kind of an adjustment dialed in here. And up here, we have white balance. White balance is really two sliders, it's temperature and tint. And when we click within our image with the white balance eyedropper, all it's doing is saying hey, you're clicking on an area that is supposed to be a shade of gray, what is it really? And if it was really yellow, it moves the slider away from yellow towards the color that would absorb yellow, 'cause these are opposites here. If there was too much magenta, it moves this slider away from magenta into the color that is its opposite, to have it absorb some. Well, with this tool, I can't click on the image to adjust it, so I just need to do it manually, I'm gonna guess. If I look over here, there looks to me like there is an excess of blue, does that seem to be the case? So I'm gonna move this slider away from blue, and as I do, nothing will happen to the image because I need to paint it in to tell it where. And I was just guessing at what I should use. I'm gonna come in here and make sure I have a soft-edged brush, that's the feather setting, and I'm gonna paint on my image now. And I don't know if the setting will be correct for this particular use because I just don't know if it's too much or not. But I'm gonna paint it in, here goes. I think it's a little too much 'cause I'm seeing it being a little bit yellowish over there when I'm done. I might paint over here too, 'cause I'm assuming it's the same color of light. Although I could be wrong, it could be a different bulb that's installed there. And now I can fine-tune it. Now that I've defined where it should affect the image, now I'm gonna look at that area, and I'll move this slider towards blue and say nah, it's too much. Move it towards yellow, now that's too much. And somewhere in between will be just right. And I can do the same thing for the tint slider, move it towards magenta until it looks like it's too much, move it towards green until it's too much, and then find the in between that's just right. I think I got some over spray in this are right here, 'cause I can see it kinda looking overly yellow. So, there's a choice up here called erase. And that means let's erase what I just painted in. So I choose erase, I come over here, and I'll probably use a smaller brush. There's setting in here for size. And a soft edge. And just come in here and get it off of this part. And sometimes it takes some fiddling. If you need some of it here, what you can do, I'll choose undo a few times here, is there's a setting here called flow. Flow means how much of it should I delete on the first pass? And it's set to 100, I might bring it down to 25, 30, something like that. And so that when I paint over here, it's not completely removing it, it's just lessening it. And then I paint over another area a second time to bring it down even further, just there, until I got it just how I need it. I think there's a little bit here on the road that might not need. So that's how you deal with mixed light sources. You have some wall sconces on the wall at home, they have different bulbs in them, you put the fluorescent bulbs in those, but you have tungsten bulbs, you know the old-style bulbs, in your table lamps. Take a picture in there, one of the two, you can compensate for them. And to compensate for the other, we need to use that adjustment brush. Best to do it in Camera Raw, because any kind of color collection you can do in Camera Raw, is usually gonna be superior if it's a raw file. And the reason why it's superior is it's no different than changing the setting that was in the camera itself when it comes to quality. When your camera is usually set to auto white balance, it's trying to measure the color of light that the scene was shot under, and it's just writing down two numbers, and those are these two numbers. And then when it gets loaded into Photoshop, Photoshop's just typing those numbers in, and we can change them, it's no quality difference. But once we open the image all the way into Photoshop, any kind of color changes we try to make won't be anywhere near as high quality as what you'll get from a raw file, being adjusted in Camera Raw. There's just been too much done to the picture behind the scenes, to get it into Photoshop. All right, so now let's try some more images. If you remember this image here, the main problem, I think, with this one is when I clicked on the cloud, it most likely went white. But now we got our eyedroppers dialed in and so it doesn't matter if you use an adjustment layer or not, it's your personal preference, but let's, in this case, figure out where is the brightest and darkest areas without guessing. So, do you remember the sliders on the far left and right, we hold option and bring it in until you see the first thing that turns white, not a color. Okay, I see it, it's in a cloud. I don't know if you can see it, it's right above the letter D in diner. If you move up from there. And I'm just gonna let go to see where it is, visually. Okay, and then I'll move this slider back to its original position. I'll the same thing on the other side, until I see the first thing that turns black. First blob, not a speck. I got a couple spots to choose from. I'm gonna go for the bigger blob, 'cause it'll be easier to remember. Okay, I think I remember approximately where. There's actually something you can do to mark that spot, if you want to. If you're seeing it, you can move your mouse right over there, and I believe, see if this works, it's been ages since I tried it. Usually you can hold shift and click there, and it'll add a crosshair. But that might work in the current version. It's something I haven't used in ages because it's not essential. It might be when I'm in one of these, yeah. If you're one of these eyedroppers, you can hold shift and click, and it'll put a little mark on your image. So I could also mark this. Then I move the sliders back to their defaults. And now you can see those marks, they're called color-samplers. And now I can come in, white eyedropper on the bright spot, black eyedropper on the dark spot. Middle eyedropper, and I'm guessing here. I'll just look for, what' my menu of choices? How many different objects can I find in the scene that really should be a shade of gray? So, for me, that would be the paint on this handicap sign. I'd usually zoom up so you can more precisely target these areas, but I could try that, 'cause wouldn't that be white paint? The image looks rather blue. That tells me the area I clicked on was not white. What's the opposite of blue? That depends if you remember or not, it's yellow. So that means there was really yellowish there which make sense with cars driving over it that the paint wouldn't be perfectly white. So I just try another spot, like here. I think that's a sign that's painted white. That made it look better. There's the background of this sign, as long as I don't hit any of the non-white paint. And maybe if it's a brushed metal, but you gotta be careful. Metal reflects a lot of what's around it, so it's not necessarily the best choice, especially chrome. So then I'll turn off the eyeball here. Here's before, here's after. If you ever do color correction, sometimes you'll find that the end result's a little bit too dark. It has to do with the black eyedropper. When you click with it, it makes things black. What you can do, is if you use an adjustment layer, go to the top of your layers menu. Right here, you got a popup menu, change it to color. And if you do, it can only change the color, it can't change the brightness. So now you see the brightness came back? You can do that anytime you do color correction if it's an adjustment layer, change that menu to color. The opposite of color is luminosity, that means only change the brightness, don't change color. So, I'll turn this off, before, I think it looks better in the after, right? Now, I only use the eyedroppers that help. And, in some cases, you'll find that some eyedroppers just won't help. So if I come in here and go to levels or curves, doesn't matter which one. And here I grab the white eyedropper, well the brightest part of the picture, when I look, looks to be right here. And, first off, that might be too bright, in, that might be solid white. And if so, it's not gonna do much of anything when you click on it, it's not changing too much. I might wanna find the darkest part of the image using that trick, of holding down the option key. It looks to me like that's already at default. But you see it's around, right in that background. So I'll grab my black eyedropper, click there. And then grab the middle one, and I'm not sure what should be gray in here. This was years ago I took this picture. In case you can't tell, these are, I think, little Buddha statues inside this wall. But I'm just gonna guess, maybe this is white paint. If it is, the eyedropper would help. If it's not, it won't. So I click. Oh, I'm guessing that was white paint, because that looks more like what it was when I was there, taking this photograph. I won't be satisfied with that though. I'll try here, that looks like it could be a gray area, I click, I don't know if the color looks better, so I'll choose Command+Z for undo. Maybe the base of these statues, it looks like kind of a whitish thing. I'll click on it, if it improves it, I'll go with it. If it doesn't, I choose undo. And if ever one of the eyedroppers does not help, it just shifts your picture in a bad way, choose undo and skip that eyedropper. The time you will find that the most is with the white eyedropper, when you have, what I would call, a desirable color cast. What would be a desirable color cast? Well, a color cast is when there's a color dominating your picture that wouldn't be there if it was lit with white light. And the time when I'd like that look is a fireplace, dinner by candlelight, sunrise or sunset. In all of those instances, the image is going to look overly yellow or orange, and you like that it is. And when you use the white eyedropper on it, you're gonna find, wherever you click is probably gonna be either the light source, or something similar to it, and it's gonna pull all the light out. It's gonna make it look like it was white light and you're not gonna like sunset if it looks like it was lit with white light instead of that beautiful light. So you skip the eyedroppers that don't help. But just because I skip the white one, doesn't mean I don't try the others. So if you wanna see before and after, I'll turn this off. Before, after. I know you weren't there when the photo was taken, so you don't really know what the colors are supposed to look like. But that's closer to what it should look like. And for those of you in the studio audience, know, this monitor here is adjusted so it looks good on camera. Which makes it so the colors on the monitor are not very saturated. On my screen, I see a vivid red in that, but I don't see it back here. So, just so when you guys are looking, you're kinda like, what? It looks better on the recorded video. It's adjusted for that. All right. So, when we go out shooting, if I'm gonna use the white balance eyedropper I mentioned before, what I'll often do, is I have one of these stuck on my bag. This little loop here clips onto my camera bag. And so if I'm gonna go out shooting, taking photos, if part of color correction is looking at gray areas, and what we're trying to with those gray areas is figure out what was the color of light falling on them? Well, if I grab a white light bulb and hold it above this, which is a gray object, isn't that gonna look reddish gray? If I grab a yellow light bulb, put it above it, it'll look yellowish gray. The gray is where we can measure what color is falling on it. So, this is called a WhiBal card. WhiBal is short for white balance. And if you go to, you can see them, see the product, but there are all sorts of different companies that similar products. So I'm not saying this is better than any other, but what I like about this particular product, is it's plastic instead of paper. So that if it gets rained on, it's not ruined. And this is the same size, exact same size as all those little cards that your grocery stores give you, and your fitness clubs give you that are on your key chains. You know, the standard little size, so you can put it in your key chain. They make another one the size of a business card, so you can put it in your wallet. And they make another one the size of, it's either eight by 10, or eight and a half by 11, so you can throw that in other areas. And what I do with this, is when I'm about to go out and take photographs, I set this in the scene. So that whatever light is gonna light by subject, is falling on this. And I take a photo that includes it, usually just zoomed up, kinda like this. Then, I can use that to click on it with the white balance eyedropper. And as long as the same light that is lighting my scene, is lighting that card, then I can figure out the right white balance setting to use. And, sorry I don't have a bunch of examples here. I wish I did, I just grabbed this picture of the WhiBal, I didn't grab another picture taken in the same room. But had I done it, if I were to open this in Camera Raw, if I click on it with this eyedropper, I could either write down these numbers right here, and use those exact same numbers on other picture that were shot in the same environment. Or, if you have more than one picture selected, like this, and you type Command+R in Bridge, it brings up more than one image at a time. I can click on this, and before I click on it with the white balance eyedropper, I can type Command+A. Command+A means select all. And if all of these images are selected, when I click on this with the white balance eyedropper, it would use the exact same setting across all the images. Now, that's not gonna help these image here, because they weren't shot under the same light as this card. You can add the card later, in Photoshop. The card is designed to measure the light that was falling in the scene. So many people afterwards ask, can I put gray in my image and then click on it? And it's like, no, it's not gonna help. You need that gray to be sitting in the scene that you're about to shoot under. So I just zoom up on it, make sure the light's hitting it, take a picture of it, and then I start shooting there. And anytime I move to a new location that's got different light, like I go indoors now, I'll just do it again. And so I have a bunch of these, I stick one of my wife's camera bag, so if she's walking through the scene, I just turn, she's walking, she doesn't even know I'm capturing it, click. I just concluded my shot, and then I shoot in that area. She does the same thing with me. But that's called a WhiBal card, there are other brands though. It's mainly, notice a white balance reference. I particularly like this 'cause it's durable.

Class Description

Master the art of color correction, and learn how to edit images with challenging lighting issues. Make use of the wide variety of features that Photoshop has available for images with mixed light sources, complex highlight and shadow situations, or underwater lighting. Gain the ability to bring images that you believe to be terrible back from the brink of the trashcan, and shoot with greater confidence that you can correct your images in post.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2


Rachelle R. Vetter

Great course w a lot of good information.

Carolyn Whiteside

Awesome explanation of color and how to use that knowledge to apply to color correcting techniques!