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Perfecting Color and Tone

Lesson 1 from: Bring Out the Best in Every Image with Photoshop

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

1. Perfecting Color and Tone

Explore the histogram and how you can play with and shift color and tone in your images.

Lesson Info

Perfecting Color and Tone

Really what this class is about is trying to figure out how to make the most of different types of images and how do we get to these tools in order maker images come alive and pop I have something to him one of my favorite quotes about photography is by marc riboud the french photographer said photography is savoring life at one one hundredth of a second and so that's my goal in this class is how do we kind of save her life more and you software to help in that process we use photo shop in light room from camera to a little bit as well the goals for the session our tio look att some raw processing techniques basic controls selective adjustments batch processing and exploring how we can improve and enhance color then photoshopped well there's a little bit of retouching works in color and tone and sharp sharpening and kind of look at this core set of tools to see how we can improve our photographs these air some of the types of things that will be doing like I said some camera stuff whit...

e room stuff and we'll get to all of that before we begin inspiration what I find is that trying to find out what inspires you is equally as important as getting good at the tools what I mean by that is this is finding what you're threat is as a photographer whatever type of photography are so henry carty roberson said that his photography was yes yes yes to life it was a huge yes sebastian salgado who does other type of their server that who does a lot of international work and he'll photograph atrocities of the world but his threat is dignity he's always trying to say how can I bring dignity to the situation even if it's horrible and so what we have to do is ask ourself well what's our threat and then how do we use software to get there? Does that make sense otherwise what we're doing is just imitating other people were like well just like make it blue and it's like well know why well maybe I wanted to be reflective and poetic and that's my throat I'm all about poetry and so I don't use a lot of contrast because poetry is a softer voice whatever it is all right next is a couple of links to some of the other things I do all right well now let's get started and dive right in with a conversation about color and tone and to kick things off actually minute jumped to camera from bridge so enbridge oppress command are that opens an image up in cameron it's easy to remember commands a big shortcut r is for raw that's control are on windows and I want to talk about the history graham in the interactive history gram of both of these tools this is a picture of ah japanese friend beaches this great spot, but exposures way off so we can use sliders, which a lot of us know but another way to get familiar with the history graham and understand what it does is to click into it and drag and clicking into and drag in history. Graham what I found in my own work flow kind of connects me with what the slider is doing you saw that it just move my shadow slider of course I could have just gone there, but this also says like, oh yeah, I'm kind of scene what's up there in that area and we can do other things like exposure and see how we're shifting the full history, graham all the way over to the right and how it's changing the characteristics of it if you're wondering which I don't think any of you are because we've been talking a little bit, but what the heck is a history? Ram it's? Just a visualization of the information we have in our photograph? And I found to get good at your images, understanding what that little thing is helps out greatest way to do that click and drag this kind of an image to bring out its best I think is really starts with the shadows and then probably or highlights and our highlights air over here we can drop those down see that background comes comes into play a little bit and we have amore a better exposure and why does exposure matter? It's kind of an important topic rate because the eye goes to brightness is we've talked about areas of color and sharpness and if I worded is reset this for a moment the guy's lost like it was supposed to be about the guy but he's lost and so what I want to do is bring him back let's look at that in camera I'll talk quick here in the beginning is going to get to the basics and we'll get more advanced gonna go d for develop open up the history graham same kind of thing here, right it's just the same deal I'm gonna it's closed this side to have more mohr image space um let me get this set there we go same kind things we bring up exposure bring up my exposure and my shadows and the drop those highlights down and the other trick I think with getting an image to a good spot is trying to almost listen to it and turn it to try to say like, well what what are you trying to say image like, what are you about this one it's about the guy and the environments really important so I need to pay attention to that you know, contrast could bring back some of those things clarity is an interesting one and let's exaggerate for a moment. We've all seen things like this, but lots of clarity adds mid tone contrast, I think of clarity if it were a hammer it's like a finishing hammer and if you know what that is but it's a small little hammer used to put a nail little nail in your wall, you hang hang a frame up versus contrast is like the big, huge like sledgehammer boom, and it does a lot, so clarity does these little things and trying to figure out what those little things are is really important with this image we see get midtown contrast, maybe let's zoom in on the guy a little bit, but we also lose color that can be helpful, but what if you want the color? The trick is to think of clarity and vibrance his brother and sister, and when one crosses the street grabs the other hand of the other one or she grabs his hand, whatever and they pull each other along. So if your clarity goes up and you want to maintain the original color, so will your vibrant cider so just tried it mentally connect those two we'll talk a little bit more about those sliders later, right now there really it's about history, ma'am and dragging around to try to improve exposure in light room, as I've said before but I'll say again the shortcut to see before and after we have is our backslash ski which gives us that before and in backslash key again gives us the after all right let's get mohr into how we can improve pictures and look at another example here this one kind of on the surfing thing you can tell I enjoy this sport a lot I live in santa barbara, which is amazing and because beautiful ocean and mountains and anyway so here's this thiss image and we're going to do with this one is just kind of walk through what we might do with our work flow cropping is an essential part of photography in some photo photographers, especially a school where I taught and I taught for over a dozen years ago really good photography school will say you crop on camera, you never crop afterwards get it right on camera and we know that right? But yet it doesn't always happen and so what I try to say is yes, get it right on camera and then if you don't keep working it, you know and try to ask yourself what would you have done with this image? I think it's just a little bit tighter and trying to find the right way to have that energy of this moment there's lots of ways we could have done that when you get to the crop tool that are key gets you there, the overly graphic that we have is the okie, and that just shows us these different overlay grids, sometimes those air helpful what tends to happen, though, is we'll see the grid there, but no one else will. And so I like to turn it off eventually the h g is a shortcut for hiding things like that. So even if you have a really fancy overlay grid, the golden mean or something, just a th key, so you could say, ok, well, this work without that, right, then we want to apply the crop doubleclick inside there, and it will apply that photograph, all right? We can, of course use their basic controls, these air very similar in, um, in light room and camera here, when I'm doing is just a touch of exposure, a little bit of contrast, I almost always like contrast, but that's because I know what my I want my image to be remember savoring life think of something you're savoring its like, delicious, you know what I want, and I don't want it to be the like sweetness. I wanted to be delicious there's a difference there so that that determines my level of contrast, as weird as that sounds, um a little bit of shadows and then if I drop bringing the contrast or the clarity for this one with action, sports and ocean and those kind of things vibrance really helps out pretty well now with this image um what I want to do is close this upsets little bigger with this image his skin's a little bit off in skin tone is tricky and digital captures we've mentioned we have a great area we can go the h s l controls to begin to dial that in hue saturation luminant so the hugh sliders perhaps I should do something more dramatic like the blues we can see we can change the ocean green or purple, which I don't want to do we can also modify their color if we want the colors to drop out that particular color if we wanted to just come up a little bit so we can selectively choose those in this case the skin I'm looking to have take a little bit of red and yellow out or red and orange out and then brighten them up so I'm in the luminant sliders now when you brighten something up it loses color and that makes sense think of his like it's brighter and brighter and brighter we have less and less of that, so so I'm just trying to take that down a little bit to get it tio a better spot all right, so here we are go back to our controls looks like it's a little too dark I need to open the image up and it's always tricky to work on your images at least for me when I'm talking and if anybody tried that like watch I'm doing because the best image making happens I think in quiet when you're really in the zone that being said here's our kind of where we've gotten this image and that before and after didn't work because I had done something previously but you get the idea of how we're bringing this image listening to it taking it out and we're connecting it to our thread, which is the way that we want to make photographs it fits into our type of work all right, let's do this with a couple other images on get into another topic it's a similar photograph to one that I showed in another course my daughter anne who I love so much um this one is going to start with a crop. The shortcut key for the crop tool is the archy right shortcut key for the overlay in the crop is I kind of gave it away but it's oh, yes oh, for overland yeah, I guess I didn't give it away quick on dh then if we have a crop that has an orientation I mean make this black so you can see that. So we have one like this if you press shift oh, just toggle syrians different iterations so you can always, you know, change that up with shift. Oh, all right. So I'm gonna get rid of the overlay or maybe go back to something just like the rule of thirds and bring back my exposure cropping again? I'm just gonna bring it in a little bit. Why do I always do that? The best photographs really pay attention to edges and so if we're going to try to make strong photographs, we have to be so in tune with how we're using space in the space that's there ideally, I don't have to, but sometimes we do. So I'm always asking myself that and trying that out with this image, I want to bring in some shadows, you know, bring up. I need to bring her up a little bit more. It should be more golden, right? So go up to my color temperature. Bring some of that up. Not too far remember that that's not delicious food anymore. I'm not savoring that right it's like, you know it's it's. I don't know what it is it's a sandwich with like too much mustard on mustard's a good thing we don't you know got it got that was bad but I mean you got to get something in there but not too much all right a little bit of clarity lost color on that one so bring with my vibrance you want to keep opening it up you know? But I like the I like the kind of feeling of this I want to bring more onto her so we have a lot of selective adjustment tools and one we've mentioned a few times in my court is is is the radio filter radio filter has a shortcut associated with it which is shift am I almost gave it away but the way you remember those is this one's em and then this one shift them so we'll grab that tool down below feather so if you have no feather and if we apply a radio adjustment has a really harsh edge to it and if we increase our feather slider has a soft edge to it right now it's darkening we could also have it brightened and that's what I want to do bright and maybe even a little more yellow like bring a little bit more into that it's almost like I have a flashlight right where I'm lighting in post production and I've actually done a couple of courses on that we're using these selective adjustment tools to light your images and there are strangely, a lot of different parallel, so I'm going to try to find the right spot, my values too high, but sometimes it's ok, because that he helps you find where it needs to because if I really had it where I want it, which is probably down here, I wouldn't quite know exactly, you know, it just gets you there quicker, so have nice low exposure that overlays distracting me. You guys were getting sharp because I know you know what I'm doing next, right? Which is I want to hide the overlay in this case it's the h key because it's not like, you know, h and m just like, yeah, there's my smiling you know, anne, I want to bring it back, though, so I can duplicate this one, right? Click it or control click and shoes duplicate that gives me another one just sitting in the same spot and this one I'm going to bring down to lower area of her and have it be a little bit less strong, so just a little bit less there may be some contrast in that go back to the other one above a little bit of contrast in there and you get where we're going with it, right? What happens with photography is this you you start off with this image and I'm so excited that my focus is there that my daughter was there that it was a field of flowers you know, because what happens with fields of flowers is a storm can come through in the flowers gone, you know, and it's wild flowers it's springtime and so I'm just like yes, I'm you know, so victorious but what we have to do is kind of say ok haven't won the prize yet and where could that go and what tonight and how can I bring that there? And so that's what this course is about and it's really about just trying to think about software is a way to do that versus software's away to maybe fix broken thing eggs or you know, we get in our little ruts you ever going to run anyone in here where you're like this is what I do but you know, how do I get get out of that? All right let's dio another one will go to mac laskowski the man himself the man the myth the legend um matt took me shooting were this conference down at the ocean was really fun he convinced me teo get into this long exposure stuff which is a new space for me but anyway this image it's just like my surfer guy right problem is that he's underexposed there in the shadows so couple ways we could do that to reiterate go up here just to be like, ok that's that's the area of the shadows you know, that's what my shadow slider do and that's what I need to open up first, whenever we opened something up or brightened something up, it almost always needs tio be given some contrast back to sort of correct for that adjustment that had happened there. So in this kind of an image listening to it it's about my body and him in the moment and trying to almost visually just remember like coke aig landscapes get low to the water or wait, you know, long exposure that's why I'm capturing this image that's all I need to do and that's fine and sometimes post production can be easy and doesn't always have to be ton of steps that being said, I'll do an image and photo shop in a few minutes where we will create I think like eight different layers and adjustments sometimes it takes that this one doesn't write nice natural landscape all right? Um let's do this because part of this isn't just tools, it is kind of the philosophy. And so from that perspective, I want you guys to ask each other a question, and the question is, how do you know when you're done with an image? Most people don't have an answer to it and that's a problem because you're like well I just don't know and then so that so what we have to start to come up with how do you know and if you don't know what what what do you tend to try what you do something I ran out of time okay? You're done yeah or whatever. So and if you're watching this online as you know to yourself how do you know what son you know with wins enough twenty seconds quick question go for it yeah, I want to hear what your answer is chris yes, well ok let's keep going. I have a question for kanna we gotta put her on the spot some I can't. How do you know when you're done there's no right or wrong to this right to that's the media how do you know when you're done? I don't know if you're ever done done but for me for that particular moment when I'm just feel it maybe you kind of stop and welcome feel like you need to walk away maybe though you come back on dh then you try something more but I don't know I think there's I think I have to just call it actually because I think I came to take up with certain things keep going, what am I going to extrapolate from that I'm very similar to gut do you have anyone relate with that and that there's no one who can tell you when they're done, some people like, oh, you're done know how? Like, you have no idea what's turning in my god and so got and feeling and intuition is a huge part of photography and being okay with that in tune with that and there's a lot of approaches, you know, I think the guitarist and the famous band u two said songs, they're never finished there, just abandoned, you know? And so but it is kind of like, all right, I give up, you know, I'm done, but trusting the gut, so part of what I'm trying to get you guys into is we have tools, we have work flow, we have rights, we have all that, but we also have to listen, we're listening to the image of what's my threat, but then also we're paying attention at the artists who are the best are really, really in tune with that internal dialogue, and when when I think they're done, they're not like I had one friend I went, visited his studio, he shoots celebrities and he's amazing photographer, this guy, jeff lipsky, and, yeah, this one print that someone he had just made, and I was like, whoa, I was I was seriously, I couldn't believe it. He was like, oh, man, you tore it up and he's like that is like, I can't even vote, and he just went on and on, and he explained to me why he didn't like the print, but I couldn't figure it out, and so I said, can I keep your tourney pieces, and I have it in a file on everyone, so I piece it together and try to figure out what's wrong with it. I don't see it, but what it was is for his got his intuition. He knew that didn't fit who he was, what he wanted, create, right, so it's, not just tools, got intuition. So can I was awesome.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Chris Orwig - Bring Out the Best in Every Image with Photoshop - Reference Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews


Chris Orwig has long been near the top of my most admired photographers list. I own his books, have watched almost all his courses, and naturally purchased this course from CreativeLive. As always, in a short time Chris covers new and unique material in his wonderful professorial manner that is always easy to understand. Great material, great class, great Orwig, and highly recommended. But I must add a short addendum for other Orwig followers who may be considering this course. Chris is easily the most philosophical, metaphysical, feeling photographer I know. He is a poet with words and images, and he teaches that you should produce images that resonate with your own higher self. Great! But I almost fell off my chair when this class started and Chris now has a very long beard. Okay Chris, I am a follower! You are not only my favorite instructor, but my guru of all things photographic!

Noemi Rav

Great class as usual by Chris Orwig, a gentle mix of useful teachings (it goes fast, be prepared to take notes or rewatch video) and wise guidance. I particularly appreciated how practical the course is, you get to learn things you can apply right away versus a general Lightroom or Photoshop class. If - like me - you know your way around a little bit the editing tools but want real life exemples on improving the edit of your images, plus appreciate it coming from a great teacher, definitely watch this course.

creativelive student

Chris is brilliant in the depth of his knowledge as well as his teaching skill. He can talk sliders and deep emotions in the same sentence. So many photo teachers are "self-taught" with giant holes in what they know, or they think that 7 years of experience is a lot. Chris is one of those pros that just gets better and better, with skill and with heart. This particular course goes fast and you have to pay attention to the arrows to see what he is doing. But listen up - it's Chris - what he says can go deep instantly, or be a big terrific new skill.

Student Work