Colour Correction Using Photoshop

Colour Correction Could Add That Extra Punch to Your Digital Images!

This is one thing I have noticed as I talk to people, look at photos and visit forums. All the bells and whistles that modern editing programs have, a major point is being overlooked at the editing stage. That is colour correcting any unwanted colour casts in digital images. We can do this in any version of Adobe Photoshop.

Nowadays, it is more often than not, down to us to "develop" our images every step of the way. Your negatives from film photography (if you ever ventured that way) would have been entirely processed at professional labs. They would have corrected the colour, among other things, for you.

It is therefore more noticeable when an image has a colour cast to it, normally red or yellow. This can make people think there is a problem with their camera. Inaccurate colour cast is quite normal. It usually appears when you have been shooting in low light, perhaps indoors, with no flash or studio lights. Or maybe you or the camera had set the incorrect white balance.

For example;

This was a shot I took quickly in my office under typical indoor lighting conditions. These are similar to the lights used at wedding receptions or people's houses before the wedding.

Colour Correction Using Photoshop

Colour Correction Using Photoshop Fig. 1

Many couples don't like flash being used at their wedding. It is inevitable therefore, that you will end up with some colour casting. There is a fairly simple way around this which I will cover below. I can imagine that once you grasp it, you will want to go through many of your images to try this out. It really can make quite an impact to your images.

Colour correction using Adobe Photoshop

Ok, open the image that you want to adjust, go to:

Image - Adjustments - Colour Balance

And a box should appear as in Fig. 2 below:

Colour Correction Using Photoshop

Colour Correction Using Photoshop Fig. 2

Now, as this image has a fairly large amount of red and yellow cast to it, we need to make adjustment to those colours. So with the "Mid-tones" box ticked in the tone balance area of the box, slide the Cyan - Red slider to the left. This will decrease the red hue, but don't slide too much. Then slide the Yellow - Blue slider to the right to decrease the yellow hue. Again not too much.

If you have the preview box ticked, you will see the adjustments happen as you make them. Obviously each image is different and will need varying amounts of adjustment. For my image, in the mid-tones section, I reduced the Cyan - Red slider to -20 and increased the Yellow - Blue to +20.

Highlights and Tone Balance

If you don’t see a huge difference, don’t worry, there is more. Now, tick the Highlights box in the Tone Balance area, make similar adjustments, i.e., decrease the red and yellow hues. For my image I decreased the red to -20 and the yellow to +20, and the result is this;

Colour Correction Using Photoshop

Colour Correction Using Photoshop Fig. 2

In later versions of Photoshop, you can simply hit "auto colour" as the colour corrections are now pretty accurate. However, this method allows you more options and creativity. Lastly, you can also try ticking the shadows box and making very minor adjustments there too. Too much and your contrast will suffer so make gradual alterations and see what happens.

The difference in quite noticeable as you can clearly see above. The colours are correctly balanced and the grey/black items have returned to their natural colour.

With modern Digital SLR's like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV you can get away with high ISO (3200 or 6400+) indoor shooting. This eliminates the need for flash if you just use this technique and the help of noise reduction software such as Neat Image.

Colour Correction Using Photoshop
Colour Correction Using Photoshop

Of course, colour correction using Photoshop is useful in many other aspects other than wedding photography.

I do a lot of interior work and sometimes it is not practical or necessary to set up the studio lights for images such as a quick kitchen shot.  

A tripod set up using natural light will do, knowing I can correct the colour balance later on.

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