Use Color Modes & Color Correction in Photoshop®
So, the other thing we want to talk about with images is the actual color mode that we're working in. And again under the Image menu we have our Color Mode, and whenever we shoot an image we always shoot an RGB. RGB is the visible spectrum of light. So every camera, every phone, every scanner uses light in order to capture its subjects, so when we bring it into Photoshop, RGB is the visible spectrum of light. Anything that we do where this file is going to end up on a light emitting device, video, phone, tablet, computer, web, whatever, if its end result is going to be for a light emitting device, we leave it in RGB. RGB is going to give us the widest visible spectrum possible, okay? Now when we go and we do something for print, print is very different. Print is actually going to use pigments, and we have cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks with that. It is a much more limited palette that you have with your image, but when we go to print, generally we go in and at some point along th...
e way we do a conversion at the very end to our files in CMYK so that we can go ahead and use for print. A real important item here. Because we have a very large spectrum of colors, millions of colors with our RGB image, when we go ahead and we convert it to CMYK, we are cutting out a large portion of reproducible spectrum. If we then go back to RGB, we never get it back. That analogy of you can always cut something shorter, you can never cut something longer. This is exactly true. So, to do a blanket generalization, I don't convert to CMYK. I actually do that in my end files when we go to print. The software now can convert to CMYK. One of the reasons is is that I never want to be left with a file that has less content in it than I need, because I never know when I'm gonna use that file for web or for print. If I keep it in RGB, I'm gonna have a lot more editing flexibility, and I'm not going to go ahead and throw away content that I can never get back. So, that's just a quick little run around on that. There's always exceptions, but as a quick overview on the basics of Photoshop, you can keep it in RGB. So I want to go in and one of the things that people always ask. It's like, you know I go in and I do color correction. No, I mess with color in Photoshop, okay? Let's just be plainly honest here. I don't go in and do color correction. I just make my colors look kind of goodish sort of, and I ask the people, can you do that again? And it's like, probably not. Could you should me how you did it? Probably not. Okay, so going in and actually understanding your image so you can do some very basic brightness, contrast, and color adjustment with your images, super easy. But, one thing with Photoshop is there's just so much in there. So back under our Image menu, we keep going under there because what does Photoshop deal with? Images. That's why we go into the Image menu. So we go under our Adjustments. We have image adjustments and we've got a lot of adjustments to do. If you're in CMYK or you're in Grayscale some of these adjustments are not available. Just because these work with RGB. Everybody understands brightness and contrast so that's the first thing that people use. They call it brightness and contrast, they slide the sliders, it gets brighter or not brighter, our contrast here and everything. Great. Don't ever use that. Adjusting brightness and contrast is very important. The problem with that is you have no idea what you're doing and you get no feedback from the photograph whatsoever. I don't want to not show you it. I showed you it, don't ever touch it again, okay? So Image, Adjustments, we're gonna use Levels. Levels, simple and easy to understand once I show you these basic tricks. So Image, Adjustment, Levels, and it calls up our Levels adjustment panel here. Things that you need to know about this. One, there's a story with every single image, and this little mountain right here, it's called a histogram, this is your story. And how I can tell this image is shot is the way the information is distributed in this histogram. Right here, this is our shadow slider, this is our highlight, and this is our midtone. Hence the dark, the light, and the in between. So, the definition of contrast is, making your darks darker and your lights lighter. The more divergence we have between the darks and the lights, the more contrast that we have. The brightness is how bright or how dark it is, and it's like, okay, but going in and just doing brightness and contrast using the sliders, we have no control over really what we're doing other than visually. And I don't have any information with this image that's actually gonna guide me through this. The levels, I have that guidance, and this is the picture right here. Now in my shadow area here, you'll see that there's a very large spike right here, and that tells me there's a lot of information that's in my shadow area, and I can look at my image and it's dark. Hm, dark, shadows, yes it correlates with the picture, and I don't have a lot of lightness in the picture which is the whole reason why I went in here to do the adjustments. I look over here at my highlight slider and there's nothing. There's no little mountain, there's no information there. If I never saw this image, I would say that this is a dark image, because the majority of the information is from the midtones darker, there's a lot of information, which means there's a lot of information in the dark areas. This is how I adjust contrast. Darker darks, lighter lights. The more I slide my shadow slider in, the darker it gets. In this case I don't want it any darker. It's dark enough. So I take my highlight slider and I slide it in which will allow me to lighten up the light areas. Well how far do I go with this? I mean I can look at this and say okay I like it, but is it actually going too far? Well, when I adjust something I don't want to saturate the shadows too much where I actually lose detail. It gets so much color in there that there's no longer any detail. That's oversaturated. When I do highlights, if I go in and put too much highlight in there, I blow out the highlights which means there's no detail on there either. So either it gets too saturated or it gets blown out. Something I don't want. But, wow, the more I do that, the more contrast I get. So, you want lots of contrast, slide your highlights and your shadow sliders together. You're going to get the most contrast ever. There you have it. Didn't tell you it was gonna look good but you got lots of contrast. So based on my histogram here I want to be able to slide these sliders in to a relatively good area where I can get what we call pleasing color, based on my image. Now, there's not much information here so I'm gonna slide my highlight slider in to the point where I begin to get a little bit of color. A little bit of information on the histogram or that story. Because that's at the point where I'm starting to get a little bit of information. That's where I want my highlights to be. A very well professionally shot image is going to have a fairly decent distribution of information across everything, and we're not gonna have information piled up at one end or the other. We're gonna actually have it taper off so we have a little bit of room for adjustment, and that's gonna give us a nice overall look and feel. This is just a simple overview of Photoshop folks. This is not photography 101, okay? I just want to make that clear. So, now I've been able to go in and adjust this based on my image, and I can turn on and turn off the preview and it's like, wow that's substantially better. Now I've done my shadows and I don't want to slide my shadows in because I start cutting off the information. Anything outside those highlights and shadow sliders will get cut off, okay? So I do have a lot of information here. I don't want to make the darks any darker so I'm gonna leave that there. My highlights I've slid in, and then my midtones slider is gonna balance how bright or how dark it is overall. So, I can go in and I can brighten it overall. I can darken it overall. I'm gonna kind of cheat it a little bit to the brighter side there, and you'll notice we can do our contrast separately from our brightness, but we're paying attention to our histogram. As we see this, that was my before, that's my after. That's a whole lot better, okay? I could reproduce this on any image that I have based on the histogram, and I'll show you. So, I just did it on that one. It's like, okay so how about in another one? Well I'm gonna go to these donuts in the window. It's a little bit dark, it's a little bit overcast, and I would like to do this a little bit better, so I'm gonna go back under my Image, Adjustments here. The temptation is great, but don't touch it, so there's my Levels. Okay, very different histogram right here, and you can see I've got a lot of information. It's shoved over to the shadow area side, but I have a bit of room here which means that this is probably a better photographed image, and it isn't over or underexposed. So I can slide this into my shadow areas and darken up those shadows. I can bring this in from my highlight areas there, and wow I mean that makes a huge difference to just bring that up through there. With my midtones sliders, this kind of works what seems to be backwards. If I slide my midtones slider toward the highlights, it gets darker. Well what it's doing is, that's your midpoint between the dark and the light. If I slide it over here, that means it's including a lot more area from the dark area. If I slide it over here that means it's including a lot more area from the light area. I'm kind of getting that in the middle as a nice balance. Well, for not knowing much about color correction, this is substantially better. And I can do this with every image as long as I know what the image is telling me. If I can listen or see what the image is telling me, I can pay attention to that. Pretty easy to do. Every image is gonna have a histogram no matter what it is. A better shot image is going to look pretty good, and I can go in with an image like this and if I do levels here, you can see that my information is pretty evenly distributed here. I can make that darker if I want to. I can make that lighter, but that's pretty much evenly distributed across the whole thing. This is a stock photo, so it probably should be fairly well shot, right there. But if you look at any of these and you do a Levels on any of these you get a very different look and feel to all of these because every image is different. So any type of color correction that you want to do, very easy to do using Levels. Just go in and set your levels. Once you click OK, everything outside your sliders gets cut off, okay? Because you've now adjusted that out of the picture, so you're pretty much done with that color adjusting. That's really simple and easy to do. Now if I wanted to take it one step further, and I see with this image here, I've got my image, I go under my Levels and I set my contrast here. I do that, and I kind of balance my lightness. Now I'd like to take, and I would like to start adjusting the color. This was just overall. This was just going in and getting brightness and contrast. But I can also take it one step further and I can ramp up the red or the green, or the blue in here to warm it up or cool it down, or get rid of a cast, or add some type of cast to this. And I can do that by going in and using my channel. This is my composite channel, my image overall, or I can target a specific channel, so my red information, my green information, or my blue information. Now, as you get really good with this, this is behind a window, it's like an overcast day, it could be a little bit blue. I could go in and I could target my blue and I could kind of change that a bit. So when I go in here when I'm targeting my blue, think of this as a light switch, okay? So if I go in and I want to use my light switch and I use my light area here, the more I use the light, the more of the color channel I'm getting, okay? If I want to go in and I want to take this color out, I'm gonna go to my shadow end and the dark is going to take the blue out, and so as I do that, my blue starts to come out. So the highlights slider, it's going to add that color or lighten, so I get that color overall, so I can go ahead and I can kind of make it cooler if I want to have it look like it's a cloudy day of some sort, or a cast coming through the window. There's a lot of green in here, so if I take the green, I could add more green to it. Ew, no, but I can take some of the green out and you see just by going in and using my shadow slider, that's going to be removing the green, and I do that and I can really warm that up substantially. Looks a whole lot nicer and a whole lot more inviting there, just by going in and targeting the specific colors. So, turn off the preview, flat, dreary, not much contrast. I was able to adjust the contrast and go in and take out some of the green, and now it looks a whole lot more warm and inviting overall. Pretty easy to reproduce just about on any image that you want to do. Not bad. And, simple, easy way to do it. If you can open Photoshop and you can open an image there, you can go in and you can adjust the color like that. If for any reason you panic, just hit the Cancel button. It's awesome, but a little trick here folks. I love this trick. If you've gone in and you've really messed it up, you can hit Cancel, or if you hold down your Option or your Alt key, that Cancel button will turn into Reset. Oh, so you don't have to close out of the dialog box and get back in. I know, sneaky, mm-hmm, I know. So, now I feel a lot happier with this image right here. Works pretty good. I want to show you another type of color adjustment here, and this one is really fun. I have this shirt and I was doing this catalog and the client comes to me and says, you know what, I need to go in and I need to change these colors. I need different colors of this shirt, so I can go under my Image menu and I can choose Adjustments here using Levels. I don't want to use Levels, it looks good now. I'm gonna use Hue and Saturation. I love Hue and Saturation. It does a lot of different things. Hue and Saturation allows me to change the hue, which is the color. So I can go and I can change the color of my object to anything just by sliding the Hue and Saturation slider all the way through. Pretty awesome. I can also desaturate my colors if I want to go in and make it more grayscale, or just add a little hint of color to it and just kind of darken it up a little bit. And then I can also control how light or how dark the image is overall. If you've ever looked at a catalog and you've seen the exact same object in there numerous times, this is one of the ways they go in and they don't re-shoot the product in different colors. Same product, they just go in and they shift the colors. Now, that's kind of fun, but imagine if we actually did that with something like this, and we used our hue and saturation. We could go in and just shift all those colors overall. I know, crazy huh? Yeah. So going in and using the hue and saturation, really fantastic way of just simply globally changing all the colors. Another nice thing that you can do here is this Colorize feature. The Colorize feature allows you to go in and kind of make it like a sepia tone look where you can desaturate the whole thing, and desaturate that so it adds just a little hint of color. So then you can go in, kind of do a flatter image as well. Doesn't look that great on the shirt, but if we go back to the cupcakes here and I do my hue and saturation, and I do the Colorize there, it allows me to give an entire cast to the image, and I can control that color cast overall, and you've seen this before. Cut back on the saturation a bit so you get kind of that cool stylized effect there. Your phone does this with all the filters, but now you can actually do it and understand it in Photoshop. And all this is is doing the hue and saturation, and then just clicking the Colorize button. It turns it into what looks like a grayscale image with just a hint of color. You control the color by sliding the Hue slider. You can control the amount of the saturation there and you can get a very artsy looking image. Pretty simple. Or made to look simple. Don't want to scare you with Photoshop. So pretty cool to do that. Yep. So, we've been able to go in and do some adjustment here. I'm gonna jump over. There's one more adjustment that I want to do here that I would like to go in and actually target a specific area in the image. Right now all we're doing is going in and just doing some color adjusting, and a client came back and said, you know what? I really like those strawberries but I'd like them to be a little bit more red. If I went in and I adjusted my levels here and I did Levels, it's gonna adjust the red overall. There's a lot of red in the wood, which is makes it warm. But I would like to go in and just adjust the strawberries and the cheesecake, and nothing else. Just the strawberries. And I don't know Photoshop well enough to actually go in there and get those strawberries, and there is no select the strawberry filter, so a great way to do this doing an adjustment is called Selective Color. Selective Color, wonderful feature, and the Selective Color allows you to go in and instead of physically going in and putting a selection around those areas, this allows you to adjust based on the color that you choose. So I can go in and I can say, okay target this color or that color and adjust only that color, which is pretty nice. So if I go in with the reds here, I can go with the reds and I can add more magenta in the red areas, which is kind of cool, and there are some reds in the wood so I get to adjust that. But you notice how it's not adjusting the plate at all because there's no read in the plate. So it's just targeting that color. So I could take out some of the cyan and really warm it up, or cool it down and make it look a whole lot more frigid here without specifically going in and isolating those actual areas. So Selective Color, really quite awesome. Reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues, magentas, whites, blacks, and neutrals. If you ever want to go in and do a little bit more advanced color correction, and you don't want to go in and they're hard to select colors or something, this is great for leaves and trees, and sprinkles on cupcakes. You can just specifically target that. The reason why it's called Selective Color is because it goes in and it targets just those specific colors, right there. So you can do that, Selective Color can be quite a fantastic feature to do.