First off, let me say this. Photoshop is something that you need to learn if you are even some what serious about photography. Photoshop has replaced traditional dark room techniques and has revolutionized Digital Imaging and Photography as a whole. If you feel differently about Photoshop, I don’t care. Keep it to your self. With the right amount of understanding about how to do certain tasks you will wonder how you ever lived without it. I know there is no way I would be able to use any program other than Photoshop now.
I am making this thread to put in techniques and tutorials that can be used on your photography. If you have a tutorial to share, please do so. I want this thread to help teach people what they need to know on how to get good results from Photoshop. I am also going to take the time to say that Photoshop in no way makes a bad picture good. With Photoshop you can make a good picture great and a great picture even better. Also, I am posting this in the Photography section because I feel that this relates to the Photography section as much as the Photoshop section. In the Photography section this will be much more beneficial.
I am going to make this as easy to understand as I can, but forgive me if you don’t understand something. I am very familiar with Photoshop so I may accidentally skip something. Now on to the first Tutorial: Color Correction.
Open the RGB photo you want to color correct(The Photo shown here doesn’t look too bad, but as we go through the correction process, you’ll see that, like most photos it really needed a correction.)
Go under the image menu(top bar), under adjustments, and choose Curves. Curves is the hands-down choice of professionals for correcting color because it give you a greater level of control than other tools, such as Levels. The dialog may look intimdating at first, but the technique you’re going to learn here requires no previous knowledge of Curves.
Step Three: First, we need to set some preferences in the Curves dialog so we’ll get the results we want when color correcting. We’ll start by setting a target color for our shadow areas. To set this preference, in the Curves dialog, double-click on the black Eyedropper tool(it’s on the lower right-hand side of the dialog, the first Eyedropper from the left). A Color Picker will appear asking you to Select Target Shadow Color. This is where we’ll enter values that, when applied will help remove any color casts your camera introduced in the shadow areas of your photo.
We’re going to enter values in the R,G, and B (Red, Green, and Blue) fields of this dialog (the Red field is highlighted here):
For R, enter 20
For G, enter 20
For B, enter 20
Click OK. Because these figures are evenly balanced (neutral), they help ensure that your shadow area won’t have too much of one color (which is exactly what causes a color cast- too much of one color).
Now we’ll set a preference to make our highlight areas neutral. Double-click on the white Eyedropper (the third of the three Eyedroppers in the Curves dialog). The color picker will appear asking you to Select Target Highlight Color. Click in the R field, and then enter these values:
For R, enter 244
For G, enter 244
For B, enter 244
Click OK to set those values as your highlight target.
Now, set your midtone preference. You know the drill: Double-click on the midtone Eyedropper (the middle of the three Eyedroppers) so you can Select Target Midtone Color. Enter these values in the RGB fields
For R, enter 133
For G, enter 133
For B, enter 133
Then Click OK to set those values as your midtone target.
Okay, now that you’ve entered your preferences (target colors) in the Curves dialog, you’re going to use these Eyedropper tools that reside in the Curves dialog to do most of your correction work. Your job is to determine where the shadow, midtone, and highlight areas are, and then click the correct Eyedropper in the right place (you’ll learn how to do that in just a moment). So remember your job: Find the shadow, midtone, and highlight areas, and click the correct eyedropper in the right spot. Sounds easy, right? It is, You start by setting the shadows first, so you’ll need to find an area in your photo that’s supposed to be black. If you can’t find an area in your photo that’s supposed to be the color black, then it gets a bit trickier- in the absence of something black, you have to determine which are in the image is the darkest. If you’re not sure where the darkest part of the photo is, you can use a trick to have Photoshop tell you exactly where it is.
If you still have the Curves dialog open, click OK to exit if for now. You’ll get a warning dialog asking you if you want to “Save the new target colors as defaults.” Click Yes, and from that point on, you won’t have to enter these values each time you correct a photo, because they’ll already be entered for you – they’re now the default settings.
Go to the Layers palette and click on the half-white/half-black circle icon to bring up the Create New Adjustment Layer pop-up menu (it’s the fourth icon from the left at the bottom of the palette). Choose Threshold from this pop-up menu.
When the Threshold dialog appears, drag the Threshold level slider under the histogram all the way to the left. Your photo will turn completely white. Slowly drag the Threshold slider back to the right, and as you do, you’ll start to see some of your photo reappear. The first area that appears is the darkest part of your image. That’s it- that’s Photoshop telling you exactly where the darkest part of the image is. Click OK to close the Threshold dialog this adds an adjustment layer in your Layers palette.
Now that you know where your shadow area is, you can mark it. Click-and-hold on the Eyedropper tool in the Toolbox, and from the flyout menu that appears, choose the Color Sampler tool. Click this Color Sampler once on the area that is darkest and a target cursor will appear, marking that spot. When you do this, the Info palette automatically appears onscreen, You don’t need this palette right now, so you can close it. Now to find a white area in your image…..
You can use the same Threshold technique to find the highlight areas. Go to the Layers palette and double-click on the adjustment layer thumbnail to bring up the Threshold dialog again, but this time drag the slider all the way to the right. Slowly drag the Threshold slider back toward the left and as you do, the first area that appears in white is the lightest part of your image. Click OK, and then click the Color Sampler tool on on the brightest area to mark it as your highlight point.
You’re now done with your threshold adjustment layer, so in the Layers palette, click-and-drag the adjustment layer onto the Trash icon to delete it. Click Yes in the warning dialog asking if you’re sure you want to delete the layer. Your photo will look normal again, but now there are two target markers visible on your photo. Next, press Control-M to bring up the Curves dialog.
First, select the shadow Eyedropper (the one half filled with black) from the bottom right of the Curves dialog. Move your cursor outside the Curves dialog into your photo and click once directly on the center of the No. 1 target, the shadow areas will be corrected. (Basically, you just reassigned the shadow areas to your new neutral shadow color.)
Tip: If you click on the No. 1 target and your photo looks horrible, you either clicked in the wrong spot or what you thought was the shadow point actually wasn’t. Undo the shadow setting by pressing Control-Z and try again. If that doesn’t work, don’t sweat it; just keep clicking in areas that look like the darkest part of your photo until it looks right. You can do this with the highlights and midtones, too.
While still in the Curves dialog, switch to the highlight Eyedropper (the one filled with white). Move your cursor over your photo and click once directly on the center of the No. 2 target to assign that as your highlight. This will correct the highlight colors.
Now that the shadows and highlights are set, you’ll need to correct the midtones in the photo. Click the midtone Eyedropper (the middle of the three, half filled with gray) in an area with the photo that looks medium gray. Doing this corrects the midtones, and depending on the photo, this can either be a subtle or dramatic difference, but you’ll never know until you try, Unfortunately, not every image contains an area that is grey, so you won’t always be able to correct the midtones.