Photoshop Elements 3 Solutions, Pt. 1 | 5 | WebReference

Photoshop Elements 3 Solutions, Pt. 1 | 5

Photoshop Elements 3 Solutions

Figure 2.10: Changes made in the Levels dialog box (left) are reflected in the image window (right). In this case, sliding the shadow triangle to the right made the dark areas too dark.

Figure 2.11: Corrected image using Levels.

More Levels

If you click Auto in the Levels dialog box, you'll get the same results as you would using the Auto Levels command. This dialog box also enables you to change the brightness and contrast of the image by dragging the gray slider at the bottom. This affects all the pixels equally and does not affect the color values. You can also choose to work specifically on a red, green, or blue channel by selecting from the Channel drop-down menu at the top of the dialog box.

Unless I know one specific color is off, I work in the default composite RGB mode. The eyedroppers found under the Auto button can also be used to adjust Levels according to a tonal priority. Select the eyedropper on the left and click directly on the area you want to be the darkest area of your image. Observe the changes as Levels forces those areas to black and adjusts the corresponding tonal values accordingly. Select the middle eyedropper and click midtone or gray areas (areas without any color) and watch the effect. Select the eyedropper on the right and click on an area you want to be the white area of your image and watch the effect. You can also customize the black, gray, and white targets by double-clicking the corresponding eyedropper tool. This opens the Color Picker, where you can select colors to adjust the three tonal values. This can be useful if you want to adjust the tonal parameters of your image to match the capabilities of your printer. If you hold the Alt/Option key, the Cancel button becomes Reset. This enables you to start over without closing the Levels window.

Correcting Color

A digital image can contain an unwanted color cast, perhaps because of an improper white balance setting, or a mismatch between film and ambient light, or a poor scan. You can rid a digital image of unwanted colors or make colors truer in several ways by using Photoshop Elements. The easiest way is using the Auto Color Correction command (Enhance > Auto Color Correction, or Color: Auto in Quick Fix). If this doesn't work satisfactorily, and you want more control, try the Color Cast command (Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color Cast) or Color Variations (Enhance > Adjust Color > Color Variations), both of which I'll describe in this section. (You can also adjust colors individually with Levels, as described earlier.)

Auto Color Command

Auto Color Correction does both independent and composite adjustments of the red, green, and blue channels. Auto Color Correction often does a better job of fixing color cast problems than Auto Levels, which does only an independent adjustment for each color channel.

Here's how to access Auto Color Correction:

Try it, and if it doesn't work, move on to one of the following methods.

Removing an Unwanted Cast with One Click

Figure 2.12 shows a photograph I took of a new MRI scanner at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. The balance between daylight film and ambient light was off, and the result was a greenish tint.

Figure 2.12: A mismatch between film sensitivity and ambient light caused the greenish tint.

It was easy to fix the image by using Photoshop Elements' Color Cast command, which analyzes color samples taken from selective parts of the image and attempts to shift the color cast to a neutral color.

Here's what I did:

Figure 2.13: The Color Cast Correction command (left) helps remove unwanted color casts. The image with the color cast removed (right).

Note : Usually I find the notes that Adobe includes in their dialog boxes to be excellent. However, I must confess that reading the note in the Color Cast Correction dialog box confused me at first. It reads: "To correct a color cast, click around the area of the image that should be gray, white, or black." The first time I read this, I didn't pay particular attention to the word should.Instead I tried to find an area in my image that was gray, white, or black. I didn't have good results until I realized that I needed to look for areas that shouldbe a neutral color such as gray, white, or black. The tool works by taking a sample from any one these areas you choose and then assuming that you want the sampled area to be other words, to consist of equal amounts of red, green, and blue. It then shifts all the colors to create this neutral state.

Shooting Digital: Use the Right Side of Your Brain When shooting with a digital camera.or, for that matter, any camera.keep in mind that photography is a visual language dependent on light and form. It works best when it speaks to the nonverbal, intuitive side of the brain, complementing words but not necessarily competing with them. A billboard framed against a brilliant blue sky is interesting not only because of the words on the billboard but because of its shape and the way that light strikes it, and the inherent tension between something man-made and something natural. I always tell my students that the best way to learn this language is to take classes and examine images in books and see what works and what doesn't. I tell them to go to exhibitions and art galleries, and by all means, just pay attention to the way the summer light strikes a gnarled old oak tree or glances off a sleeping child's face.

Using Color Variations to Get the Color Right

While on assignment for Wired magazine, I used daylight film to shoot the portrait of Cold War warrior and futurist Andrew Marshall in the fluorescent-lit halls of the Pentagon. (Yeah, believe it or not, I still shoot film occasionally). The mismatch between outdoor film and the indoor lighting caused Marshall to be bathed in an interesting combination of magenta and green light, as shown in Figure 2.14.

Figure 2.14: The colors in this photo (left) needed to be adjusted. The Color Variations command (right) is a good way to visually adjust color, contrast, and saturation.

To tone down the strong casts, I used Photoshop Elements' Color Variations command. The Color Variations command lets you adjust the color balance, contrast, and saturation of an image by showing you thumbnails of alternatives. Like the Color Cast command, Color Variations is most useful for images that don't require precise color adjustments.

I followed these steps:

Figure 2.15: The adjusted image.

Scanning Digital: Scanning Old Black-and-White Photos

When scanning old black-and-white photos, keep your scanning software set at RGB. Don't scan in grayscale even though that might seem like the logical way to go. Most old photos contain subtle colors or tints, caused by the aging process or the characteristics of the photographic paper. It's these colors that make the image look authentic.

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Created: March 27 2003
Revised: November 30, 2004