22 Replies Latest reply on Mar 13, 2012 7:52 PM by flyinion

    color correction in CS3

    flyinion

      Sorry for my newbness on this but I'm trying to make sure I'm not duplicating or undoing my work from one tool in another.  I recently finished going through Scott Kelby's CS3 for Digital Photographers book and I'm a bit confused on some aspects of color correction.  He starts out having you set WB, exposure, contrast settings, etc. in ACR.  Then when you move it to PS he has you use the curves panel to color correct.  Of course that entails using the black eye dropper and clicking on the blackest/darkest area of the photo, similar for the white dropper, and after a nice little trick to find the right spot......... an area for the midtone dropper. 

       

      The thing is I've noticed that once I make that first click with the black dropper, that nice contrast I had from ACR adjustments goes out the window and the photo brightens up a lot.  The final steps of putting 3 points on the curve and dropping the blacks end and raising the whites end brings it back a bit but I was thinking isn't setting the WB with the dropper in ACR already color correcting?  Even at the end of the book when he goes through his actual workflow using a provided .dng example he does all the ACR stuff and then moves to PS and uses the curves panel.

        • 1. Re: color correction in CS3
          gator soup Level 4

          that sounds like an awful lot of work...

           

          i usually just open my .nef in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) then

           

          option+drag the Exposure slider to set my white point

           

          option+drag the Blacks slider to set my black point

           

          • i'm not sure what the Windows equivalent is to the Mac Option key for dragging a slider, but check out what happens when you do that

           

          make Brightness and small Temperature adjustments if needed

           

          then open in Photoshop and go to work in Selective Color and Curves Adjustment Layers...

           

          +++++++

           

          the Curves/Levels black & white eye droppers and clicking on the blackest/darkest area of the photo are nice tricks, but they always seem prone to clipping the end points more than i want

           

          whereas opt+dragging the endpoint in Levels (and ACR) make it easy to spot the exact points

          • 2. Re: color correction in CS3
            Noel Carboni Level 8

            One wonders why someone would advise doing overall color corrections in Photoshop after the Camera Raw tool does such a good job of it.

             

            Seems to me Photoshop proper is for fixing individual things in the image, unless you're opening a file that's already been developed, at which point I see no particular advantage to using Camera Raw to do it.

             

             

            One thing you mentioned:

            flyinion wrote:

             

            The thing is I've noticed that once I make that first click with the black dropper, that nice contrast I had from ACR adjustments goes out the window and the photo brightens up a lot. 

             

            That sounds backwards.  The black point dropper can't really brighten an image, just make it darker.

             

            Capture the dialog showing the droppers and show us which one you're selecting please, and post it here.  I have a suspicion you may have it turned around backwards.

             

            -Noel

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: color correction in CS3
              flyinion Level 1

              I'll double check when I get home and see if I can post a shot of what I'm talking about, but yes in the curves panel I alt-click & drag the slider on the left to find the darkest part of the image, then of the 3 droppers from left to right I click on the leftmost one and then use it on that identified darkest part of the image.  I do it similarly with the dropper on the right and the far right slider.  Then the middle dropper is used on an appropriate gray area.  The effect I'm getting when I click what I thought was the black dropper (the one on the left of the 3) is it looks like the photo brightens but I guess a better way to describe it is this.  It's like moving the contrast slider in ACR.  I can't remember which way but where one way increase the contrast and the other makes it less contrasty and has kind of a washed out look (I know that's not the right term but it's the only way I can describe it) to the lights and darks.  Clicking what I thought was the black dropper gives it that washed out contrast (not enough contrast) look.

               

              Noel Carboni wrote:

               

              One wonders why someone would advise doing overall color corrections in Photoshop after the Camera Raw tool does such a good job of it.

               

               

              -Noel

               

              That's why I was wondering if I'm duplicating work here and unknowingly have been color correcting in ACR (even though Kelby doesn't mention it as such) and then doing it again in PS and undoing my work in ACR.

              • 4. Re: color correction in CS3
                D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Set the adjustment layer blend mode to "color" to avoid all those problems.

                 

                Fixing black and white points to neutral color is usually a good move. Setting the white point in ACR will take care of the high end, but the low end requires some extra attention. A color cast in the shadows is one of those things that can prevent the image from "snapping". At the same time it can be hard to pinpoint purely by eye, so that's where the eyedropper trick is handy.

                • 5. Re: color correction in CS3
                  flyinion Level 1

                  Ok, so here's an example of what's going on.  This first picture is straight out of LR4 but basically the same kinds of adjustments I would have made in ACR.  So WB using the custom WB dropper, exposure, clarity and the new LR4 versions of the old recover, fill light, etc.

                   

                  http://www.metallic-raven.com/before_curves.jpg

                   

                   

                  Now here's the first adjustment using the black dropper (as you see above already selected).  I clicked it on the tire circled in red in this next pic.  You can see the pic has been lightened up.

                  http://www.metallic-raven.com/blackpoint_curves.jpg

                   

                  Finally here is the completed correction as per the instructions Kelby gives.  You can see the points added to the curve have brought back some of the contrast, though side by side the finished product is still slightly "brighter" than the starting picture. 

                  http://www.metallic-raven.com/finished_curves.jpg

                  • 6. Re: color correction in CS3
                    Noel Carboni Level 8

                    Something VERY strange is going on with your system there...  Your histogram is not changing at all, implying changing the black point didn't do anything (which would be the case if the pixel you clicked on was already exactly black), yet the image is changing quite noticeably.

                     

                    I stand by what I said:  Just changing the Black point with the dropper CANNOT lighten an image.

                     

                    Can you describe PRECISELY what you're doing, click by click, between the first and second screen grab?  Something is not right with the world here.

                     

                    -Noel

                    • 7. Re: color correction in CS3
                      Jeff Arola Adobe Community Professional

                      Did you change the Target Shadow Color by chance?

                      (you double click on one of the eyedroppers (black point in your case) and the color picker comes up that says:Select target shadow color)

                      1 person found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: color correction in CS3
                        Bo LeBeau Level 4

                        You're not using adjustment layers.

                        You're making destructive non-recoverable edits to the only layer in your image!

                         

                        Always, always use Adjustment Layers, these are non-destructive and can be edited an infinite number of times without changing the underlying pixels.

                        They change the appearance of the pixels but don't permanently alter the pixels.

                        Once you alter the pixels you can't go back. With adjustment layers you could open your file years from now and make changes to the appearance of the image while still having the original image data intact.

                         

                        Notice that two of the answers you have received in this forum question have both mentioned Adjustment Layers.

                        Yes, they really are that important. Use adjustment layers whenever possible (or Smart Objects - these are different and a subject for another discussion)

                         

                        At the bottom of your Layers panel are several icons. Click the Black/White diagonal icon and you will see the different adjustment layers you can apply.

                        adjustment-layer.jpg

                        • 9. Re: color correction in CS3
                          flyinion Level 1

                          R_Kelly wrote:

                           

                          Did you change the Target Shadow Color by chance?

                          (you double click on one of the eyedroppers (black point in your case) and the color picker comes up that says:Select target shadow color)

                          I was clicking on that tire there in the red circle.  Definitely the blackest part.  If you hold down ALT and drag the black triangle at the bottom of the curve that area shows at the darkest.

                           

                          So, I think I may have found more of what is going on.  Seeing as CS3 is old now, maybe the info I'm going off of is incorrect (or Kelby just is giving out wrong info in his books lol).  So I went back and looked at the beginning of the section on color correcting in his CS3 for digital photographers book and he does some preliminary setup on the curves panel.  Double click the black dropper and set RGB values to 10,10,10 to "preserve shadow detail in prints" according to him.  Then the midtones dropper is set to 133, 133, 133. Finally the whites are set to 245, 245, 245. 

                           

                          I'm guessing the 10/10/10 thing is what is causing the lightening of the photo so now I guess I really need to find out what the right way is that I should be color correcting.  Oh, and yeah I know about adjustment layers and definitely need to start using them.  Looking back at that chapter (it's been a year+ since I looked at it fully) I see where later on he talks about using an adjustment layer to do it, I guess I just forgot about that when I picked the book back up (and when I've been working on my images all this time).

                          • 10. Re: color correction in CS3
                            Noel Carboni Level 8

                            That's it, the black point is being set to 10 instead of 0, effectively lightening the blackest black in the image - something I've not found to be helpful, and I just didn't think of it.  Perhaps the author of that book had some specific issues with printing dark colors where it helped.

                             

                            Lightening the blackest point in the image is a lot easier than presetting the dialog for 10,10,10.  All you need to do is pull the black point up the left edge a bit in the Curves dialog.

                             

                            That said, I have done exactly that for some astroimages for display on monitors, which often crush blacks.

                             

                            No disrespect to Bo intended, but I personally dislike the use of the word "destructive" in this context, which is used to try to scare people away from pixel value editing.  You can do a LOT of pixel value editing in 16 bits/channel mode without incurring any practical problems whatsoever.  If an image is substantially made the proper exposure level and color during raw development, then there's no reason to feel you need to use adjustment layers if all you need is a little tweaking.  It kind of boils down to how you're planning to use the image...  If you figure it's going to go into eleventy seven different work products, well, then maybe adjustment layers are a good idea.  If you're tweaking it once for a print or a web upload, simpler seems better.  There are also some definite downsides to adjustment layer-based editing - for example that for the preview display in Photoshop the data is all combined in 8 bit mode, which can lead to some awful posterization leading you to make poor decisions about what to do to  your image.  I can demo that if you'd like.

                             

                            -Noel

                            • 11. Re: color correction in CS3
                              flyinion Level 1

                              Hmmm, so should I possibly set the blacks, whites, and midtones droppers back to defaults?  I guess I'm still looking for an answer to part of the original question as well of am I actually color correcting in multiple tools and not realizing it?  (ACR's WB and PS's curves)  If it matters though I'm also evaluating LR4 with the intent to keep CS3 around for stuff that LR can't do.  Thanks again for all the help everyone.  Trying to make sure I'm doing things the "right" way and it's really hard to figure out what's what when you don't have much experience in the field

                              • 12. Re: color correction in CS3
                                Bo LeBeau Level 4

                                Noel,

                                I understand and respect your opinion about how you edit your images. To each his own.

                                 

                                But the original poster said: Sorry for my newbness. . .

                                So he's rather unfamiliar with Photoshop. Isn't it better to let new users learn a safer way to edit with the ability to return to their original image when they inadvertently make a hash of things? For the original poster and all the other inexperienced users that come to these forums, I like to let them know that there's the equivalent of a seat belt and an air bag that can save them a lot of grief.

                                 

                                I deal with files from graphic artists that have used Photoshop for years and have never even hear of an adjustment layer, a layer comp or a Smart Object.

                                They have files with 40 layers. 30 of which they have turned off since they have to make so many permanent uneditable filter adjustments with every slight variation of filter setting, just in case they might need a certain layer from 3 months ago when they tweaked one object in the file.  So many of their issues could have been solved with simple adjustment layers.

                                 

                                I want people to understand the versatility of Photoshop and not just learn the same half dozen procedures and stop at that.

                                You are absolutely correct that for some uses an adjustment layer isn't necessary, But the OP said that he had forgotten the part he had read about adjustment layers and how he definitely wants to start using them. After my post he remembered that there was another new thing about Photoshop that he wanted to learn. Hurrah!

                                Perhaps in the future the OP will return to the forums to help out newbies like he once was himself.

                                • 13. Re: color correction in CS3
                                  Noel Carboni Level 8

                                  Bo LeBeau wrote:

                                   


                                  Isn't it better to let new users learn a safer way to edit with the ability to return to their original image when they inadvertently make a hash of things?

                                   

                                  I'm thinking that's pretty easily accomplished by just opening the raw file again, which is one of the beefs I have with the word 'destructive'.

                                   

                                  I agree in principle that it's a good idea to help people along to doing things in the most flexible possible way.  We just have to understand that not everyone's ready to go into extreme layer-based editing, and so I figure they should be told the whole story so they can make their own decisions.  Not everyone who does pixel value editing always makes a hash of things, but your point is well-made that not everyone gets everything right from start to finish either! 

                                   

                                  -Noel

                                  • 14. Re: color correction in CS3
                                    Noel Carboni Level 8

                                    flyinion wrote:

                                     

                                    am I actually color correcting in multiple tools and not realizing it? 

                                     

                                    I'd say so, yes.

                                     

                                    -Noel

                                    1 person found this helpful
                                    • 15. Re: color correction in CS3
                                      flyinion Level 1

                                      Noel Carboni wrote:

                                       

                                      flyinion wrote:

                                       

                                      am I actually color correcting in multiple tools and not realizing it? 

                                       

                                      I'd say so, yes.

                                       

                                      -Noel

                                       

                                      LOL figures.  I kind of suspected that might be the case, but I thought I'd heard Scott Kelby was supposed to have some pretty good books so I guess I'm a bit surprised and/or confused why he's suggesting to do color correction twice in two different programs.  Earlier in the book I was going through, there are multiple ways to do things presented at times. Then at the end chapter he goes over the workflow he supposedly actually uses and setting the white balance in ACR (which to me does seem like a color correction) and then using the curves panel in PS to do his "color correction" method is used. 

                                       

                                      Maybe there's a reason (or at least maybe he has one) for why you'd do it twice.  Perhaps maybe the WB adjustment gets it "close" while you're still working with the RAW file and then curves is used to dial it in or something once you pushed it to PS?  What do you guys think about the whole changing the colors for the droppers?  Should I set that back to defaults?  I assume that would be 0/0/0, 128/128/128, and 255/255/255.

                                      • 16. Re: color correction in CS3
                                        flyinion Level 1

                                        Anyone else have any ideas here on if I'm actually doing double work or an unecessary "refinement" to the custom WB adjustment from ACR?

                                        • 17. Re: color correction in CS3
                                          gator soup Level 4

                                          flyinion wrote:

                                           

                                          Scott Kelby was supposed to have some pretty good books so I guess I'm a bit surprised and/or confused why he's suggesting to do color correction twice in two different programs.

                                           

                                          maybe he set his lesson up to explore the tools, not nail down a workflow for you...i never learned how to do overall corrections in ACR, but I like the RAW 16-bit concept and working on the color in Photoshop works for me because that's where i learned and what i understand better

                                          • 18. Re: color correction in CS3
                                            flyinion Level 1

                                            gator soup wrote:

                                             

                                            maybe he set his lesson up to explore the tools, not nail down a workflow for you...i never learned how to do overall corrections in ACR, but I like the RAW 16-bit concept and working on the color in Photoshop works for me because that's where i learned and what i understand better

                                             

                                            Yeah in some areas of the book he is certainly showing different ways of doing the same thing (like sharpening techniques or BW conversion).  At the end though the last chapter is supposedly his actual workflow and he's doing both the WB in ACR and the curves in PS.  It wouldn't seem to me that he'd be wanted to duplicate or undo his work from one tool in the other.  That's why I was confused on why he's doing both if both are indeed color correction techniques as it seems..........to me at least, or if it's a matter of one is a preliminary "fix most of it" and the other (curves step) is more of a "fine tune it" step.

                                            • 19. Re: color correction in CS3
                                              Noel Carboni Level 8

                                              It's possible that at the time of writing that book he hadn't chosen to rely as heavily on Camera Raw as folks might be doing today...  It was 2 major versions older than what we have now, after all.  The "Fill Light" slider for lightening up shadows may not have been invented yet (I've forgotten).

                                               

                                              -Noel

                                              • 20. Re: color correction in CS3
                                                flyinion Level 1

                                                Noel Carboni wrote:

                                                 

                                                It's possible that at the time of writing that book he hadn't chosen to rely as heavily on Camera Raw as folks might be doing today...  It was 2 major versions older than what we have now, after all.  The "Fill Light" slider for lightening up shadows may not have been invented yet (I've forgotten).

                                                 

                                                -Noel

                                                 

                                                It was, but I'm going to guess that is didn't work nearly as well as what it there today.  So I guess the next question then is, especially since I'm looking at getting rid of my ACR 4.6 > PS CS3 workflow and going LR4 > PS CS3, do I rely fully on LR4 for dealing with the shadows and set those curves droppers back to default settings?  Or do I even bother with the curves dialog at all for color correction if I plan to use LR4 to start with?

                                                 

                                                edit:  I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm still not quite getting if using the dropper to do a custom WB in ACR is the same as what I'm doing in the curves panel in PS, or if it's totally different, or one is a refinement of what the other did.

                                                • 21. Re: color correction in CS3
                                                  Noel Carboni Level 8

                                                  Lots of people use Lightroom to take them directly to print.  I don't use color balancing or black point setting on my images in Photoshop as a rule, having put effort into getting the ACR development controls just right.

                                                   

                                                  The Curves features are there in Photoshop for exceptional situations, but I know I don't have to use them in a practical setting.  I don't know if anyone's going to be able to give you a stronger answer.

                                                   

                                                  -Noel

                                                  • 22. Re: color correction in CS3
                                                    flyinion Level 1

                                                    Noel Carboni wrote:

                                                     

                                                    Lots of people use Lightroom to take them directly to print.  I don't use color balancing or black point setting on my images in Photoshop as a rule, having put effort into getting the ACR development controls just right.

                                                     

                                                    The Curves features are there in Photoshop for exceptional situations, but I know I don't have to use them in a practical setting.  I don't know if anyone's going to be able to give you a stronger answer.

                                                     

                                                    -Noel

                                                     

                                                    Sounds like that's what I was waiting to hear.  You didn't really come out and say it directly one way or the other but it sounds like you're implying that I actually AM doing color correction like I thought in ACR (and now of course LR4).  What you say about curves being there for exceptional situations sounds logical to me and makes pretty good sense.  Thanks for your patience as I tried to wrap my head around this