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Color Me Badd: color correction for phot... > Studio Portrait Correction Made Simp...

Studio Portrait Correction Made Simple

If you’re shooting in a studio, whether you’re shooting portraits or products, you can use a technique that makes the color correction process so easy that you’ll be able to train laboratory test rats to correct photos for you. In the back of this book, I included a solid black/gray/white card (it’s perforated so you can easily tear it out). After you get your studio lighting set the way you want it, and you’re ready to start shooting, just put this black/gray/white card into your shot (just once) and take the shot. What does this do for you? You’ll see.

Step One.
When you’re ready to start shooting and the lighting is set the way you want it, tear out the black/gray/white card from the back of this book and place it within your shot (if you’re shooting a portrait, have the subject hold the card for you), and then take the shot. After you’ve got one shot with the black/gray/white card, you can remove it and continue with the rest of your shoot.


Step Two.
When you open the first photo taken in your studio session, you’ll see the black/gray/white card in the photo. By having a card that’s pure white, neutral gray, and pure black in your photo, you no longer have to try to determine which area of your photo is supposed to be black (to set the shadows), which area is supposed to be gray (to set the midtones), or which area is supposed to be white (to set the highlights). They’re right there in the card.

Step Three.
Press Command-M (PC: Control-M) to bring up the Curves dialog. Click the shadow Eyedropper on the black panel of the card (to set shadows), the middle Eyedropper on the gray (for midtones), and the highlight Eyedropper on the white panel (sets the highlights), and the photo nearly corrects itself. No guessing, no Threshold Adjustment layers, no using the Info palette to determine the darkest areas of the image, because now you know exactly which part of that image should be black and which should be white.

Step Four.
Now that you have the Curve setting for the first image, you can correct the rest of the photos using the exact same curve: Just open the next photo and press Option-Command-M (PC: Alt-Control-M) to apply the exact same curve to this photo that you did to the black/gray/white card photo. Or, you can use the drag-and-drop color correction method I showed on page 127.


If you want to take this process a step further, many professionals use a Macbeth color-swatch chart (from GretagMacbeth; www.gretagmacbeth.com), which also contains midtone shades of gray and a host of other target colors. It’s used exactly the same way: Just put the chart into your photo, take one shot, and then when you correct the photo, a solid black, solid white, and midtone gray swatch will be in the photo, just begging to be clicked on.



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