Continuing our series on getting perfect tones in your color photography, we turn from the camera to the digital darkroom to see which photo editing tools can help rescue your images where the light or camera let you down.
Although it’s generally best from a quality and even a visualisation point of view to get the colors right at the time of shooting, that’s not always possible.
There may not be enough time, the equipment or the conditions might not allow it, or you may only see the image’s true potential when you’ve opened it on your computer screen back at home.
Here, then, is a selection of techniques you can use in Photoshop and (all but the Curves adjustment) in Elements too. Each adjustment has pros and cons, which we explain individually.
Best photo editing tools for adjusting color – Color Balance
Color Balance adjustments can be carried out directly on the image or using an adjustment layer. You’re presented with three sliders – Cyan/Red, Magenta/Green and Yellow/Blue.
Note that these are pairs of complementary colors. In our sample shot, our subject’s skin tones have a magenta tinge, so we’d counteract that by moving the Magenta/Green slider to the right, which will shift the image’s color balance towards green and away from magenta.
You need to develop a good eye for color casts to use the color Balance dialog effectively. For example, fixing our original shot effectively meant spotting that the unwanted tinge was magenta rather than red (which is what it looks like at first glance).
For a more extreme effect, we can increase the Red/Cyan to 100 and reduce the Yellow/Blue to -100. This gives the warm colors you’d expect from candlelight or firelight.
PAGE 1: Best photo editing tools for adjusting color – Color balance
PAGE 2: Best photo editing tools for adjusting color – Hue/Saturation
PAGE 3: Best photo editing tools for adjusting color – Levels
PAGE 4: Best photo editing tools for adjusting color – Curves
PAGE 5: Best photo editing tools for adjusting color – Brightness/Contrast
PAGE 6: Taking it further in the digital darkroom
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