Advanced Color Correction in Photoshop

Lesson 5/5 - Creative Color Correcting in Photoshop


Advanced Color Correction in Photoshop


Lesson Info

Creative Color Correcting in Photoshop

Now, let's see if we can do the opposite of what we've been doing. We've been trying to eliminate, reduce or eliminate color casts. What if I want to put 'em in a picture? Why would you want to do that? Well, if you think about it, what if you had a picture taken at sunset? And you then wanted to add something to the scene in Photoshop, but the thing that you want to add to the scene was not taken at sunset. So at sunset you have this great golden light coming in making everything look warm. And then you have a picture of a truck or a bird or whatever it is you want, and it was shot at noon. Well at noon, the light's more white. It's not looking this gorgeous. So you end up opening these images. Here I'm gonna select both of these pictures. Alt to use Tools, Photoshop. Load files into Photoshop layers. That really means stack these in a single document. I'll move the bird on top. But can you tell the color doesn't look anything like the other one? Well, let's figure out how to adjust i...

t so that this feels more like it would belong over in the other photo. Then if we happen to know how to remove the background on this, it might end up looking like it belongs there. I'm gonna first just show you what it would look like if I were to remove the background on this. There are many different ways we can remove the background. I'm just gonna pick one. Here I'm using the quick selection tool and I just painted around the background. And I'm gonna do a delete key thing. That's not a very good job, but you can tell in general if you look at where the wings are and things, can you tell that it doesn't quite belong colorwise? It just looks like it's white. Whereas the background looks warmer. So let's figure out how could we adjust things to make it better. I'm gonna go back to Bridge, and I'm gonna open that single image of the bird as a separate document. I'm gonna pull this down, the tab, so I can see both of 'em at the same time. And now let's see if we can figure out how to force a color cast into this image. Oh and I'm kinda getting ahead of myself, and I wish I, I'll show you one more thing then we'll come right back to this. And that is remember when you used the eyedroppers on an image? There's a way to get Photoshop to figure out where the brightest and darkest parts are. Because you know how we could use Levels and it would show us? So why can't Photoshop do that for us? When you got a multi-thousand dollar computer, can't it pull a slider in until something turns black? Well it can, I'll show you that quick and then I'll show you how to use that idea to get the color cast in here. So I'm gonna go to Levels. And, we have this Auto button. But before we use Auto, we need to come down here to Options 'cause that's the options for the Auto button. In here, do you see a choice? All I did was click on the Options button in Levels, called Find Dark & Light Colors. It should say, "And click on them "with the black and white eyedroppers," 'cause that's what it does. Okay? Then do you remember with the way color works, a balanced amount of red, green, and blue makes gray. Well why can't it search through the entire image for the area that's closest to being balanced? And then click on it. Well it can, there's a choice called Snap Neutral Midtones. That means find a color that's not near white or black. It's a midtone. And if it's near neutral, really close to being balanced, just make it balanced. That means click with the middle eyedropper on what it thinks should be gray. And then, I can choose Save as defaults because the default didn't have these two check boxes turned on. Then I click OK. Now let's see before and after. There's before. There's after. Choice, it can do most of the work for me. And now that I've dialed in the options and I turned on that check box called, what does it say, it's defaults? Now all I need to do in the future is just hit the Auto button. I think I need click OK right now though to make sure it made it all the way through into my defaults 'cause if you click cancel, it might've canceled things out. But I'll try it here. I'm gonna go to Levels, command L and just at Auto now. Boom. So how can we use that now to mess with this image to do the opposite of what that thing's designed to do? Well let's try. Command down for Levels. Let's go into Options. Do you see in here, three rectangles that show you three different shades of gray? There's a black shade, a white one, and a middle one. Well if you double-click on those, let's double-click on the white one. You get a color picker. Now, I would like to go over here to this photo, find the brightest part of it and click on it just say, use whatever color's in here. I'm gonna guess, right now, let's just say it's about here. The problem is if I click, it often won't pick it up. In this case it did though. They have to be in separate documents. If I double-click on the black one, again get color picker. I'm gonna go over here to the darkest area within this picture. And I'll click, if it ever doesn't work, like it can't grab the color, one trick to kinda force it to work is click within the document you're actually working on and then drag over there, and that kind of forces it. And I try to go for an area that's not black 'cause black doesn't have any color. So an area near black but not quite there. And then you gotta see if this middle check box is gonna help 'cause it's really difficult to figure out what should be gray in that other picture. So I usually just turn off this middle check box thing. That means ignore them, the middle one. So now, it says, "You wanna use those new colors "that we just put into those things all the time?" No, because now every time we do color correction, it would make it look this color. If it's your coworker and you hate 'em, sure. So now doesn't it look like if I were to drag that over and remove the background, it might look more like it belongs there 'cause it has the same color cast as the other picture. So I could use my Move tool in Photoshop and just drag it over here. Position it wherever I'd like. And this time I might do a slightly better job of removing the background. But this class is not about removing backgrounds. So I'm not gonna tell you how. I'm just gonna do it. I know you wanna know, but we'll cover that in my advanced tips and tricks class. Okay, so if we compare, can you see the difference? I don't know if you can see colorwise, but there's the one that's white which didn't have the same color cast. And then there's one that looks more like it might belong, because it has the same color cast as the other document. Again, the key there is when there's a color contaminating your entire picture, it's usually gonna contaminate the entire picture all the way from black to white and everything in between. And so we can measure how strong it is by looking at the brightest and the darkest areas. And we're gonna use that information within the other file. We having fun yet? All right. I'll do it again. Here let's, I like this vintage look, faded photo. Gotta a question here as well. And I want this to have said vintage look. So we'll do the exact same thing, but go on with your question. Is that technique better than the Match Color? It can be because if the contents of the picture as a whole are dramatically different, one picture has primarily a blue car in it, the other picture has primarily a yellow car in it, when you do match color, that blue or yellow of whatever the object is is gonna cause Match Color to be a little less accurate in how it's trying to match it. But in those same two images, the highlights and the shadows are gonna tell you what color is contaminating both images. So it can be more effective. Match Color though is still a choice to use. So here I'll go to Levels again. Click on Options. Go for Shadows and unfortunately not Shadows, 'cause I'm covering up the part of the image. Cancel this. You remember the darkest part of the image was in the trees over there. So now Options, black one. There's too much stuff coming out here, but I think it was in here. And just try to go for something that's not quite black. And so if it doesn't seem to pick anything up, click on your image itself and drag over there. Yeah, now I'm seeing what's in there. Then I go for the white one. And just click within your image and then drag to the other picture if it doesn't want to pick things up. In here I might use the Midtone one because in this picture it's easier to tell what should be a shade of gray. So I click there, click within my image and drag over here either to that sign that was on the wall or to this metal thing, whatever. Click OK. OK. And OK. No, I don't want to save 'em as defaults. And now this image has a feeling similar to the other one. It doesn't have the same contrast necessarily. You can do a separate adjustment for that. But it should have similar colors. It'll take me just a moment to undo something on this picture. No, don't look at what I'm doing to something that's already been adjusted. All right. A color cast isn't always going to go across your entire picture. If you look at this particular image, there are two light sources. One is the sun. The sun is hitting the right edge of a sand dune and is hitting the area over here. And the sunlight is relatively warm. It's either white light or if anything, yellowish, you know orangish light at this time of day when the sun's getting a little lower, so it gets those shadows raking across things. But then there's this area here which is not being directly lit by the sun because it's in the shade, isn't it? Now on a day like this day, the areas that are in the shade are being lit by the blue sky that's above. Because they're being lit by the blue sky, that means the shadows are bluish 'cause the color of the light lighting them is bluish. And therefore we have mixed colors. We can compensate for one or the other, but not both. I mean we will do it, but what I'm saying with white balance alone, we can compensate for one or the other. So I could say, let's pull some of the blue out of that shadow by dragging this over to make the shadow more gold. But by the time I do, the area over here might become too goldish. I wanna move this over until I like the color of the sunlit area. But then I find the area in shade to be too blue. So how can we end up just working with the dark part of picture? Because I don't wanna use the brush where I have to paint it in, 'cause oftentimes it'll be a complex shape and I'm not gonna be able to be precise in there. So here's a trick that I use. This one I only need to use when it was a blue sky out, and the sun is getting relatively low in the sky, so that usually as it gets lower and lower, you get a little warmer and it's raking across things. And here's what it is. I'm in Camera Raw. And we have these tabs that have the various adjustment choices. One of those tabs is called Split Toning. It's this one right here. I'm gonna click on Split Toning. And if you remember that every color has an opposite, then we might be able to use that. Let's see, what is the opposite, looking at this, of blue? Here's blue. Draw the longest line you can from blue to the other side and you would be at yellow. So what we wanna do is we wanna push yellow into the dark part of the picture. And that's exactly what we can do here with Split Toning because what this does is this asks us the hue, which means the basic color, we wanna push into our image. The saturation which means how much of that color, how strong should we do it. And then it says, "Do you wanna put it into the Highlights" which would be the bright part of the image, or instead into the the Shadows. So what I'm gonna do here is just move the Hue slider over here towards yellow. And I'm not gonna see anything happen in the image because saturation controls how strong should it be. And saturation's at zero. So it means don't do anything yet. There's a trick. If you wanna preview what color you're getting, you can hold on the Option key, Alt in Windows, when you grab the slider and just click on it, and it's acting as if the saturation slider was turned all the way up. I mean it's doing it at a full strength, as strong as it could do. And I'm not a look at the entire image. I'm only gonna look in that shaded part. And I'm gonna say, "Where does it start looking good?" Well, somewhere over in here where it looks more like the rest of the sand dune, maybe in there. So holding down Option was just, acts as if the saturation's slider was all the way up, to say, "Do it really strong." Now let's actually figure out how much saturation we might need. I'll bring this up, just keep bringing it up and as I do, I can see the shadow shifting. I don't know if you guys can see it very well in the monitor, in the studio, but can you see? It shifted around? So I'm gonna bring that up until I don't think the shadow is overly blue anymore. And then I could fine-tune it in two different ways. One is to fine-tune the hue. Just move it around a little bit. See, does it help to be a little bit more yellow, a little bit more orange? But I think it looks pretty good here. And then finally we have a choice called Balance. What balance means is what exactly is considered a shadow? From black to what? From black to 50% gray? From black to 90% gray? What range should we push this color into? And so I'm gonna move this one way and then the other. It's gonna limit the range that it's being applied to. So if you look up near the mountains in the distance, you'll see I'm controlling. Does it extend into those mountains? Or does it not? That's one way of compensating for it when you have a blue sky and then you have things been lit directly by the sun and other things in the shade. The shady areas will have some blueness to them. And that's gonna be exaggerated if when you're in Camera Raw, you bring up a slider here called Vibrance. Vibrance tries to make your image more colorful, but in the process of doing so, it assumes that everything in your image that's blue is a sky. And skies usually look better when their vivid blue compared to a mellow blue, and so it oversaturates blues. So it will really exaggerate the problem of having your shadows be a little bluish if you have Vibrance turned up lot in Camera Raw. So if you do that, you might need to go over to Split Toning and start pushing in the opposite of blue into your shadows. Does this make sense? Does it help it all, mentally? And yeah, it happens on all sorts of images. So here I have a few other images. I think I've already done it to some of these, but let's see. Yeah, so let's see what happens if I turn Saturation down. Look at the dark areas, like over in here, maybe in here, and I'm gonna turn this off. Can you see a hint of blue in those shady kinda areas where if I bring this up, less so. But I just noticed with this image when I was done adjusting it, I felt those, especially the area right here, just felt too blue. And so I brought this up, brought it up until there was no longer a hint of blue in those dark areas. And I like it. All right, then there's a bunch of just kind of miscellaneous, what else can we use when it comes to color correction? So let's take a peek at some other ideas. Here I have a buddy of mine, here's Jim. He happens to be our producer for this segment. I took this image in this very room with a fisheye lens. It gives you a full circle. The color correction or the white balance wasn't quite good. So let's see if we can use some of the ideas we've already covered and just do a little bit of a trick with it. I'm gonna come here and first try to do either Levels or Curves. And you remember there was that Auto button? And I'll just a click on it. It did improve the picture, but it most likely a little bit confused by the black border that's around the image because when it looked for the darkest part of the image, it found that black border. It doesn't know that it's not really part of the photo itself. I don't know if this well improve it or not, 'cause I haven't tried it or not. But what I can do is make a selection like this of the majority of the image and make sure it does not include that area out there. If I wanted to, I can make it also ignore these direct light sources, so it doesn't click on those by just getting them outta my selection. You don't have to do that, but I'm just showing that you could. So if I have a selection like this one, now when I go into Levels, which I'm gonna do again here 'cause I need to do a fresh one, go into Levels, I'm gonna hit the Auto button. And if you look at what happened when I went to Levels, you notice my selection went away? Well, it got converted into a mask. I'm not sure if you're familiar with masks or not, but, it did that. It's being used when I hit the Auto button where it only looks at the area that was selected and ignores the rest of the image. So when I click Auto, you notice how it only did it to that area? And therefore I got it to ignore the black border that was out there. And now what I do is I want the adjustment to apply to the whole picture, so I'm gonna grab this mask and I'm gonna drag it to the trash. Say Delete. Now it applies to the whole picture. It's only the moment that I hit the Auto button that it actually made the calculation. The moment I was done with that, it no longer is thinking only about that small area. So I could throw the mask away. I don't know if it's the best adjustment for this particular image, but if you ever have an image that has any kind of a border or when you're scanning a picture, if the lid of the scanner showed up a little bit, and you want it to ignore that part, you make a selection first before you go into the automatic color correction. When you're done, throw away the mask, so it can apply to the entire picture. Now this image obviously needs be brightened and other things beyond simple color changes. But the same thing could be true here. You see that border? This was framed before and it faded differently on the outer part than the inner. Well, I could do two different color corrections. One on the inside by makiing a selection there, and the second one on the outside. And then I'd have to get the mask in there. But let's look at other ideas. Sometimes the changes you need to make don't have to do with a pure color correction of the entire picture. Sometimes there are little isolated problems. If you look at this particular image, can you see some red in here near this ear and right there where the sun was coming in? Well, if you ever have just an isolated area that has some color issues, here's a little trick we can use to try to fix them. I'm gonna create a brand new empty layer. I'm gonna do that by clicking right here on my a new layer icon. Then I'll grab the paintbrush tool. And with paintbrush tool, I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but you can grab a color out of your picture to paint with. What you can do is you hold down the Option key which is Alt in Windows, and just for the length of time you have the key held down, you'll get the eyedropper tool. The eyedropper tool lets you click on your picture to sample picture to paint with. And so if I look at where this red area is here, I'm gonna go just outside of it where I don't see the red. And I Option click. All that did was set my foreground color, the color I'm about to paint with to whatever I clicked on. Then I'm gonna grab my brush, and I'm just gonna paint over the area that has the problem. And maybe I'll try his ear. And then in my Layers panel, I'm gonna change this menu right here to the choice called Color. And that means use the color from this layer, but use the brightness of what's underneath. Now I should be able to come in here. I could grab a color from the statue if I want to. Paint it in there just make sure that I got it precise. Over here if this is slightly green or blue, I can't quite tell, I can grab an area of the surroundings and paint it in. It's not gonna change the brightness. It's only gonna shift the color. Like here I see a little blob of green. I'll grab from what's around it see if I can cover that up. Just looking to see if there's any other areas that need it. It looks like most other areas are okay. So if there's just some isolated area that has an issue where the color is off, consider sampling from a nearby color. You're gonna paint on an empty layer and set that menu at the top to Color. And I'm thinking that that's the majority of what I wanted to cover. I can mainly remind you of one thing which I think I covered before. And that is anytime you do color correction on an adjustment layer, just remember that you will often need to change the menu up here to Color as well. I did that on one previous image when it became a too bright or too dark, I believe I changed it. So in this image, if I set it back to normal, do you see how dark the shadows are? If I choose undo, do you see more detail in the shadows? So if you ever do color correction and your image gets to be too dark, just make sure your color correction was done on layer like this and set the little Blending Mode menu to Color. It means only affect the colors, don't affect the brightness.

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!