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Color Me Badd: color correction for phot... > Color Correcting One Problem Area Fa...

Color Correcting One Problem Area Fast!

This particular technique really comes in handy when shooting outdoor scenes, because it lets you enhance the color in one particular area of the photo (like the sky or water) while leaving the rest of it untouched. Real-estate photographers often use this trick when shooting home exteriors to make it look like the sky was bright and sunny when they took the shot (even though the weather doesn’t always cooperate). Here, you use the technique to make the grayish sky look blue, and make the water reflect that nice blue sky.

Step One.
Open an image containing an area of color that you would like to enhance. In this example, we want to make the sky blue (rather than gray) and have the water reflect that nice blue color.

© BRAND X PICTURES

Step Two.
Go to the Layers palette and choose Color Balance from the Adjustment Layer pop-up menu (as shown) at the bottom of the Layers palette (it’s the half black/half white circle icon, fourth from the left). A new layer named Color Balance will be added to your Layers palette, but the name will probably be cut off by default. If you want to see the layer’s name, you have to widen your Layers palette.

Step Three.
When you choose Color Balance, the Color Balance dialog appears (shown here). Drag the top slider left toward Cyan to add some bright blue into your sky, and then drag the bottom slider right toward Blue until the sky looks as blue as you’d like it. When the sky looks nice and blue, click OK.

Step Four.
When you do this, the entire photo (mountains and all) will have a heavy blue cast to it (as shown here).

Step Five.
Press the “x” key to set your Foreground color to black. Then, press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill your Adjustment layer’s mask with black (as shown here). When you do this, the photo returns to its original look (without the blue cast) because the black mask hides the blue layer from view. Next, reveal parts of the blue layer using the Brush tool.

Step Six.
Press the letter “x” to make your Foreground color white. Next, switch to the Brush tool in the Toolbox, choose a large, soft-edged brush, and begin painting over the sky (as shown here). As you paint, the blue version of your sky is revealed. If you accidentally paint blue over the mountains, just press the “x” key to make black your Foreground, and then as you paint, the original color reappears.

Step Seven.
Continue painting over the sky (as shown) until the entire sky appears sunny and blue.

Step Eight.
Next, you should probably paint over the ocean as well, since it would be reflecting a much bluer sky than it originally was. However, painting in the dark blue might be too obvious, so go up to the Options bar and lower the Opacity setting of the Brush tool to 60% (as shown) so when you paint, the blue won’t be as intense.

Step Nine.
Paint over the ocean and 60% of the blue Color Balance layer is revealed where you paint. If, after you complete your “bluing,” you feel the blue needs to be lighter, change the Layer Blend Mode of this Color Balance Adjustment layer to Screen, and then lower the Opacity a bit. If you feel the blue needs more punch, try Overlay Mode instead. The final correction is shown in the “after” photo (in Normal Mode).

Before, it was just a drab day.

After making the sky and the water more blue.


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