In today’s tutorial, I want to prove to you that you ‘should’ edit your images, and crucially I’m going to share one simple color correction technique, that can quickly and easily transform an image, that you would normally drag to the recycle bin and turn it into a wow shot that you are going to want to show and share.
Capturing true-to-life colour in your photos can be challenging and is sometimes just impossible. It's also easy to underestimate just how important true (accurate) colour is to an image. An image's colour affects how we react to that image and ultimately how the image makes us feel. Blue images can feel moody, and even depressing, whereas images with a warmer colour base can make us feel happier and brighter. But we've all taken shots where a non-natural light source has created a weird or unwanted colour cast. This can have a terrible effect on skin tones especially. So, today's tutorial is one simple but powerful technique you can use straight away on any photo in Adobe Photoshop. This technique will also work inside any version of Photoshop. Let's dive in.
To edit a photo or not is a totally subjective decision. That said, it’s rare to see an absolutely ‘perfect’ out-of-the-camera image. There’s a slew of valid reasons why people like to edit their images. Perhaps you want to lighten or darken your shot, reveal detail in the shadows or change or correct your image's colour.
However, there’s one main reason why most don’t edit their photos. People think it's too complicated. It’s true, that editing can be a daunting and confusing process, where the end results look more like a mid-80’s neon-coloured unrealistic version of the original image. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by complicated layers, weird digital tools and vocabulary, masks, groups and WTF blend modes. So, let’s forget all that.
Let me show you how.
Check out the original shot in the article. Lisa took this shot of a young lady in a cafe in Perth Australia. It was a quickly taken shot and the sun was very bright. The shot is lovely the young lady loved the image, but there was a strange green colour cast created by a dark green sun awning that was providing us with all shade.
As a result, the greenish colour cast creates a very unnatural image, which also feels desaturated and cold. See the image below
As I said, its overall colour is just wrong. Normally this shot would be heading to the digital bin. But, now look at the colour-corrected image below. Most of the massive shift between the before and after was accomplished by color correcting the shot. What this really means is that I used tools that come installed with Photoshop to correct the white, grey and black areas of the image.
And, voila, the real colour of the portrait is revealed. The overall image has better saturation and feels more natural. The transformation from the original image to the much improved and corrected image, took me 120 seconds, yes just two minutes. I used only one editing tool and you can replicate this effect in just a few minutes.
Let me walk you through it. Using Adobe Photoshop
Open your image in Photoshop. From the Adjustment panel, Select the ‘curves adjustment tool’.
Next, when the curves adjustment dialogue box appears, go ahead and left mouse click the easily missed icon in the top right of the dialogue box. It has four small horizontal lines on it. Yep, that's actually a button, so go ahead and give it a click.
When you left mouse click the (four small horizontal lines) button, another options box appears. Halfway down on this options box, you'll see an option titled 'Auto Options'. Go ahead and left mouse click this option.
You're almost there! Left mouse click the 'Enhance Per Channel Contrast' option and then I find it useful to check (left mouse click) the 'Snap Neutral Midtones' box. This is especially important if you are working on a portrait where realistic skin tones are important.
You are done!
As you can see below the results can be transformative.
TIP: Remember if you're still not happy with the saturation of the overall image or a particular part of the image, you can simply add a HUE/SATURATION 'Adjustment layer' over the top of the layers you already have on your image and adjust using the master control (which adjusts all the saturation levels on your entire photo or by selecting to adjust just one colour individually.
Good luck and have fun.
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Professional photographer and motorcycle adventurer based in Wales, United Kingdom, and founder of LIVING LENS PHOTOGRAPHY and 2 Ride The World. Simon, with his wife spent 17-years travelling the world by motorcycle, exploring some of the most remote and beautiful location on earth across 6 continents. His editorial and photographic work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as, BMW Motorrad, Adobe and SENA.