Basic Color Correction

Basic Color Correction in Photo Editing Software with Auto Color and Adjustment Levels

End up with a photograph that is just too yellow, too blue…. or another color overall?

 If you discover that an image you photographed has a color cast, there are many ways you can fix the problem within Photoshop, Lightroom or similar photo editing software. Most of the time, by using either an “Auto Color” option or adjusting color levels, one can quickly correct the problem by following some basic steps.

 

1) Understanding that Opposite Colors Cancel Each Other

The first step is to understand which color is complimentary to the color cast in your image.  

  • The 6 main colors in photography are:

Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.

     

 

If you find that your image has an overall color cast, you will need to cancel the color cast out by adding the color opposite from it on the color wheel.  For example, if your image is overall too blue, you can increase the color yellow to balance the color in the image.

Opposite Colors

Red = Cyan

Green = Magenta

Blue = Yellow

2) Basic Color Correction Tools available in Photoshop and Lightroom

Now let’s look at some basic tools available in Photoshop and Lightroom to help you with color correction.

  • In most photo editing programs, there is an “auto color” option for a basic and quick color correction fix.  Sometimes, using an auto color option may fix the problem.
    • In Photoshop, this can be located within the Image menu via Image>Auto Color.  
    • In Lightroom,  a quick color correction option can be found via the Library view under QuickDevelop/WhiteBalance/Auto.
    • If the above doesn’t work, then undo the “auto color” and move on to a fine tune adjustment process below. 
  • When trying to adjust color, it often best to not use an “auto color” option in your software and use a fine tune adjustment method instead.
  • In Photoshop, select “Color Balance” via Image/Adjustments/Color Balance.   Most of the time, it is best to leave the tone balance set to “midtones”.  Keep the “preserves luminosity” ticked to stop the image from getting darker or lighter as you fix the color

 

  • In Lightroom, you’ll be working with the “Temp” and “Tint” sliders within the “Develop” view.

 

  • Take a good look at your image, and decide which color you need to decrease and adjust to the opposite side.  Try different sliders to make the color cast disappear. See below for example Photoshop results:

 

So that is the basic process for correcting color casts in Photoshop and Lightroom! There are also other methods, which include adjusting the curves, or by using your eyedropper tool to select the Black, White and Grey points in your image. But even with the basic steps, your images will be color balanced and ready for publication in no time!

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