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Color Me Badd: color correction for phot... > Before You Color Correct Anything, D...

Before You Color Correct Anything, Do This First!

Before we correct even a single photo, there are two quick little preferences we need to change in Photoshop to give us better, more accurate corrections. Although it’s just two simple changes, don’t underestimate their impact—this is critically important stuff.

Step One.
The first thing you need to change is the RGB color space. Photoshop’s default color space (sRGB IEC61966-2.1) is arguably the worst possible color space for professional photographers. This color space is designed for use by Web designers, and it mimics an “el cheapo” PC monitor from four or five years ago. Honestly, I wouldn’t even recommend this space for Web designers today, and it’s fairly ghastly for photographers, especially if their photos will wind up in print (brochures, ads, flyers, catalogs, etc.).

Step Two.
Press Shift-Command-K (PC: Shift-Control-K) to bring up the Color Settings dialog (shown in Step One, with sRGB IEC61966-2.1 as the default RGB Working Space). In the Working Spaces section, from the RGB pop-up menu, choose Adobe RGB (1998) as shown at right. This is probably the most popular RGB setting for photographers because it reproduces such a wide gamut of colors, and it’s ideal if your photos will wind up in print. Click OK and this is your new default color work space. Yippee!

Step Three.
Now we’re moving to a completely different area. In the Toolbox, click on the Eyedropper Tool. You’ll be using the Eyedropper to read color values from your photo. The default Sample Size setting for this tool (Point Sample) is fine for using the Eyedropper to steal a color from within a photo and then making it your Foreground color. However, Point Sample doesn’t work well when you’re trying to read values in a particular area (like flesh tones), because it gives you the reading from just one individual pixel, rather than a reading of the area under your cursor.

Step Four.
For example, flesh tone is actually composed of dozens of different colored pixels (just zoom way in and you’ll see what I mean). If you’re color correcting, you want a reading that is representative of the area under your Eyedropper, not just one of the pixels within that area, which could hurt your correction decision-making. That’s why you’ll go up in the Options Bar, under Sample Size, and choose 3 by 3 Average from the pop-up menu. This changes the Eyedropper to give you a 3-by-3-pixel average of the area you’re reading. Once you complete the changes on these two pages, it’s safe to go ahead with the rest of this chapter and start correcting your photos.



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