Using Simple Color Correctors 589 Putting It Together Correcting Tinted, Faded Photos In this Putting It Together project, I employ the Variations feature to restore the color in a scan of a color print originally made in 1965. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to this photo; it has a slight, but annoying, greenish tinge because the magenta dye layer of the print has faded. As a result, the other two color layers, cyan and yellow, appear proportionately stronger when compared to the magenta that remains, and cyan and yellow make a shade of green. I plan to use the Variations feature of Photoshop to restore the magenta layer in this photo that’s green with age. To correct colorcast in an old photograph by using the Photoshop Variations feature, follow these steps: 1. In Photoshop, open an old, fading photo that needs color correction. In this case, I’m using an old, faded, greenish-looking picture, shown in the figure, but any colorcast works. Book VIII Chapter 1 Enhancing Images with Adjustments continued 590 Using Simple Color Correctors continued 2. Choose Image➪Adjustments➪Variations from the menu bar. The Variations dialog box appears. 3. Select the Show Clipping option to tell Photoshop to show any areas of the image that will be “overwhelmed” by the correction you’re contemplating. That is, no new information is added. 4. If you want to use corrections you saved, load those settings by clicking the Load button. Otherwise, skip to Step 5. 5. Make adjustments with the Fine/Coarse slider. In my example, the greenish picture needs some magenta, so I dragged the Fine/ Coarse slider to the left. I wanted to have a smaller increment of change when I adjusted the color. You can also click one of the tick marks to move the slider to that position. Photoshop doesn’t allow setting the control to any of the intermediate positions between the marks. 6. Make sure that you’ve selected the Midtones radio button, and then click the Preview window containing the amount of color you want to add. Watch the Current Pick thumbnail, which reflects the correction. In my case, I need to click the More Magenta image. Click several times if your initial application isn’t enough or click other Preview win- dows to add additional colors. Photoshop applies your corrections only to the middle tones of the image. In many cases, that’s sufficient. However, sometimes shadows take on a particular hue, or the highlights may gain colorcasts of their own. 7. Click the Highlights and/or Shadows radio buttons to add colors only to those parts of the photo. Variations isn’t the best tool to make complex color corrections, so be careful. You might be able to see a highlight color in the shadows under the pillow, most noticeable in the More Magenta preview. The highlight is the Clipping indicator showing that the change made by that Preview window is too much for that particu- lar area of the picture. That is, Photoshop can’t add any more magenta to the high- lighted area without losing detail in the image. Using Simple Color Correctors 591 8. Click the Darker preview (in the lower-right corner of the dialog box) to make the photo a little darker. Adjust the Fine/Coarse slider to adjust the amount of change, or gradually darken and lighten the image by clicking multiple times. In my case, only one click is necessary. 9. Click the Saturation radio button to brighten the colors and use the Fine/Coarse slider to control how much saturation you add or remove. The Variations feature also lets you adjust the purity of color, or saturation, of the colors in an image. Now, only three previews appear: a less-saturated version, the Book VIII Chapter 1 current choice, and a more-saturated version. My photo was washed out, or under- saturated, so I clicked the More Saturation button. Enhancing Images with Adjustments 10. To save your settings, click the Save button, apply a name to the settings, and store them in the folder of your choice. continued 592 Working with Professional Color Correctors continued I recommend saving your settings, especially if you’re working on a copy of the original image and want to apply the same corrections later, or if you plan to correct several photos that have the same color defects. Working with Professional Color Correctors The simple color correctors I discuss in the section “Using Simple Color Correctors,” earlier in this chapter, usually aren’t enough to provide thor- ough color correction if you have a really problematic image on your hands. Fortunately, Photoshop has the kind of professional tools needed to make sophisticated color corrections for higher-end color printing. You don’t have to be a pro to use the Levels or Curves commands, nor to work with the Hue/Saturation controls. But you’ll feel like one after you master these powerful tools. Leveling for better contrast If you want to adjust tonal values of images (the brightness or darkness of tones) or correct colors (the relationship between the colors), the Levels command is the tool for you. It offers more control than the Auto Tone com- mand, which I discuss in the section “Auto Tone,” earlier in this chapter. The Working with Professional Color Correctors 593 Levels command is also a much more sophisticated tool than the Brightness/ Contrast control because you can work with individual tones, brightening or darkening individual tones as you want, and you have a great deal more infor- mation to help you make your choices. Open the Levels dialog box, shown in Figure 1-13, by pressing Ctrl+L (Ô+L on the Mac) or choosing Image➪ Adjustments➪Levels. The graph shown in the center of the dialog box is a his- togram, which I describe in detail in the section “Introducing the Histogram Panel,” earlier in this chapter. You can use this dialog box, histogram and all, for evaluating and adjusting levels in the following ways: ✓ Visually check the distribution of dark, midtone, and light values. Figure 1-13: The Levels dialog box offers ✓ View separate histograms for controls for adjusting the contrast in your each channel. The default histo- image. gram displays information for the entire image. To see the histogram of an individual channel, select it from the Channel pop-up menu. For an RGB image, you can view the Red, Green, and Blue channels. For a CMYK image, you can view the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black channels. You can view the histograms of each channel simultaneously by using the Histogram panel. ✓ Adjust the black and white points based on the histogram. The three triangles at the bottom of the histogram, in black, gray, and white, rep- resent the shadow on the left, midtone in the middle, and highlight on the right. Even though they’re located where they are, many images have no black tones at the far-left side of the scale nor white tones at the far-right side. Book VIII Chapter 1 One of the simplest corrections you can do is to move the black and white sliders so that they actually correspond to the pixels containing Enhancing Images with Adjustments dark and light tones. Simply slide the black triangle so that it corre- sponds to the first true black pixels in the image (the beginning of the histogram), and then move the white triangle to align it with the lightest pixels (the end of the histogram). That ensures that Photoshop doesn’t waste tones by allocating them to areas of the image that actually have no image detail. Figure 1-14 shows an example of an image that was res- cued by the use of the Levels adjustment. 594 Working with Professional Color Correctors Figure 1-14: Applying the Levels command to a dark photo dramatically improves the contrast. ✓ See exactly what happens when you use the Auto Tone command. When you click the Auto button, which applies the same adjustments as the Auto Tone command, Photoshop applies its own suggested changes, resetting the white point and the black point, and redistributing the gray values of the pixels in between. Afterward, the histogram shows that the pixels fill the complete range from white to black. Setting black and white points manually For more control, you can use the Eyedropper tools in the Levels dialog box to set the black and white points. Just follow these steps: 1. Open an image and choose Image➪Adjustments➪Levels. Make sure you have the Info panel open (Window➪Info), and display the HSB and RGB color modes. (To do this, select Panel Options from the Info panel pop-up menu and select HSB and RGB from the Color Readout pop-up menus.) See Book II, Chapters 2 and 3 for more on color modes. Remember that you can also apply certain adjustments, such as Levels, via an adjustment layer rather than directly to the image itself. Adjustment lay- ers provide more editing flexibility if you later decide you need to tweak the adjustment. For more on adjustment layers, see Book V, Chapter 1. 2. Select the White Eyedropper tool and move it around the image while watching the Info panel. 3. Look for the lightest white in the image, which may be anywhere from 90% to 100% in brightness (the B under HSB). Select that point by clicking. 4. Using the Black Eyedropper tool, repeat the process outlined in Steps 2 and 3 to select the darkest black in the image, which may be any- where from 0% to 10% in brightness (B). The combination of these two choices redistributes the pixels from pure white to pure black. Working with Professional Color Correctors 595 You can also set the white and black points by moving the position of the white and black triangles on the input sliders (just under the histo- gram). Or you can enter numbers in the Input Levels boxes. The three boxes represent the black, gray, and white triangles, respectively. Use the numbers 0 to 255 in the white and black boxes. 5. Use the Gray Eyedropper tool to remove any colorcasts. Select an area of your image that should be neutral gray, one in which the Info panel shows equal values of red, green, and blue. Note that the Gray Eyedropper tool isn’t available when you’re working on grayscale images. Although you generally make changes to the entire document by using the RGB channel, you can apply changes to any one of an image’s com- ponent color channels by selecting the specific channel in the Channel pop-up menu at the top of the Levels dialog box. (Refer to Figure 1-13.) You can also make adjustments to selected areas only. This can be help- ful when one area of your image needs adjusting but others don’t. See Book III, Chapter 1 for details on making selections. 6. Adjust the output sliders at the very bottom of the Levels dialog box. Moving the black triangle to the right reduces the contrast in the shad- ows and lightens the image. Moving the white triangle to the left reduces the contrast in the highlights and darkens the image. 7. Adjust the midtones with the gray triangle slider. (It appears between the black and white input sliders, just under the histogram.) The values you’re adjusting are called the gamma values. Dragging this triangle to the left lightens the midtones. Dragging it to the right darkens the midtones while leaving the highlights and shadows alone. You can also move the gray triangle by entering numbers from 9.99 to 0.1 in the center option box. The default value (1.0) lies exactly in the middle of the range. If you’re working with a series of similar images (such as a bunch of video captures), you can save the settings to reuse them later. Book VIII Chapter 1 You can also select a preset Levels setting, such as Increase Contrast or Lighten Shadows, from the Preset pop-up menu in the Levels dialog box. Enhancing Images with Adjustments Use a preset as your starting point and then fine-tune the adjustment manually by adjusting the input sliders, as described in the preceding steps. 8. Click the Save button to store your settings. This step saves the settings, but it doesn’t apply them. Just click the Load button to retrieve them. 9. Click OK to apply your settings and exit the dialog box. 596 Working with Professional Color Correctors Adjusting curves for hard-to-correct photos The Curves command is one of the most advanced Photoshop correction tools available, offering sophisticated control over the brightness, contrast, and midtone (gamma) levels in an image; I’m talking about control that’s far beyond what the Levels and Brightness/Contrast dialog boxes offer. This section introduces you to the functions of the Curves command, but you’ll want to practice using it a great deal to gain the kind of experience you need to work with it effectively. Whereas the Brightness/Contrast dialog box lets you change an image glob- ally, and the Levels command allows you to change the shadows, highlights, and midtones separately, Curves goes far beyond either of those settings. It lets you change pixel values at 16 different points (which include start and end points) along an image’s tonal range. You can work with the combined Red, Green, and Blue color channels (or CMYK channels) or apply your changes to the individual colors. Often, images that just can’t be fixed to your satisfaction with Levels can be helped with the Curves adjustment, as shown in Figure 1-15. PhotoDisc/Getty Images Figure 1-15: The Curves adjustment offers more control and sophistication than many other color correction tools. Working with Professional Color Correctors 597 Working with the Curves dialog box You access the Curves dialog box, shown in Figure 1-16, by choosing Image➪Adjustments➪Curves or by pressing Ctrl+M (Ô+M on the Mac). The following tips help you to begin understanding how to interpret the information and use the tools in this dialog box: ✓ The horizontal axis maps the brightness values as they are before image correction (input). ✓ The vertical axis maps the brightness values after correction (output). Each axis represents a continuum of 256 levels, divided into four parts by finely dotted lines. In the default mode, the lower-left corner repre- sents 0,0 (pure black) and the upper-right corner is 255,255 (pure white). By default, the dialog box shows a 4-x-4 (quarter tone) grid; Alt-click (Option-click on the Mac) inside the grid to toggle it to a 10-x-10 (10% increment) grid. If you have the Curve Display Options visible, you can use the Quarter Tone or 10% Increment display buttons. ✓ Whenever you open the Adjust curve by adding points Curves dialog box, the graph begins as a straight line. Unless Draw curve Highlights you make changes, the input is Midtones Save/Load Preset exactly the same as the output, a direct 1-to-1 correlation. ✓ You can expand the Curve Display Options and specify the following: • Show Amount Of: Choose between Light and Pigment to display the brightness levels or percentages. To keep things simple, I’d leave them at the default of Light (levels), where darker values Book VIII are at the bottom-left and Chapter 1 lighter values are at the top- Enhancing Images with Adjustments right. Choose between a sim- ple or detailed grid (icons). • Show: If you’re adjusting Black and White Point sliders curves for individual chan- Shadows nels, choose Channel Overlays to superimpose Figure 1-16: The Curves dialog box offers those individual curves. maximum control for adjustment of your image’s color and tones. 598 Working with Professional Color Correctors Select Baseline to show your original straight line curve. Choose to display a histogram overlay. For more on histograms, see the section “Introducing the Histogram Panel,” earlier in this chapter. Select Intersection Line to display horizontal and vertical lines to help you align your points while you drag them on the curve. ✓ The Eyedropper can show you pixel values. When you use the Eyedropper tool to click in the image, a circle appears on the graph to show you the value of the pixel being sampled. At the bottom of the Curves grid box, you can read the pixel’s input and output values. ✓ Auto sets black and white values. When you click the Auto button, the darkest pixels in the image (the deep shadows) are reset to black, and the lightest areas are set to white. Like with the Levels dialog box, this option is the easiest way to make a correction but may not be the best. ✓ Eyedropper tools can also set black, white, and gray values. The Curves dialog box has black, white, and gray Eyedropper tools you can use to set the black, white, and midtone points, just like you can with Levels. ✓ Select the Show Clipping options to have Photoshop display where clipping occurs in the image during your corrections. Remember, clip- ping occurs when a pixel’s values are lighter or darker than the highest or lowest value that can be displayed in the image, resulting in loss of detail in those areas. Adjusting curves If you click at any point on the curve other than the end points, Photoshop adds a control point that shows your position. You can remove a control point by dragging it downward until it’s completely off the graph or by drag- ging it on top of the next point up or down from it on the graph. You can add up to 14 points to the curve. Curve presets are located at the very top of the Curves dialog box. If you’re a Curves novice, trying one of these presets is a good way to get your feet wet in how curves work. Note that when you select a preset, a curve is loaded into your dialog box. You can also use a preset as a starting point and then tweak it further with your own adjustments. Experiment with the curves to see how they affect the image. For example: ✓ Click the Auto button to have Photoshop analyze your image’s color and tonal values and make an automatic adjustment. Again, you can use this preset as a starting point and tweak from there. ✓ Flattening a curve lowers contrast. ✓ Making a curve steeper heightens contrast. ✓ Moving a curve downward (if the display is set to Light) darkens the image. Moving it upward lightens.