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Chapter 8. Understanding Colors and Channels > Understanding the Lab Color Mode

Understanding the Lab Color Mode

The Lab color mode is an old color measuring system. Created in France in 1939, its purpose was to measure color based on visual perception. Since computers were not around in 1939, the Lab model is not based on a particular computer or operating system, and so Lab color is device independent. Lab measures color using a lightness channel, an "a" channel (red to green), and a "b" channel (blue to yellow). Lab works well for editing images obtained from Photo CD's, moving images between operating systems (Photoshop Mac to Photoshop Win), and for printing color images to PostScript Level 2 or 3 devices. Because of its ability to separate the gray tones of an image into an individual channel (lightness), the Lab color mode is excellent to sharpening, or increasing the contrast of an image without changing its colors. Just convert the original RGB image to Lab color, select the Lightness channel, and perform sharpening, or Levels and curves adjustments directly to the channel.


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