Tuesday, May 12, 2009

photography 201 - editing color

I'm introducing a more advanced lesson for Lens Flare readers - Photography 201. I haven't decided how often the Photography 201 feature will appear, but I figured it was time to kick it up a notch - at least for myself. Writing posts on the basics of photography has helped me a tremendous amount in my photography skills, and I'm hoping the Photography 201 series will really develop skills and techniques I've been intimidated by and/or afraid to tackle.

I need to admit something up front - I have no background in Photoshop. Zip. ZERO. My husband purchased Aperture (Apple's answer to Photoshop) for me as a birthday gift about a year ago, and while it appears to be amazing (much like Photoshop seems to be), I have only scratched the surface of what Aperture is capable of. So when I read the post on
color balance over at Pioneer Woman Photography, I was inspired to take color editing to a new level. Any of you looking for Photoshop tips should check out this blog, and there are also some great posts on photography basics. This particular post focuses on editing in Photoshop, but it is definitely applicable to editing in Aperture or any other more advanced photo editing software.

Pioneer Woman Photography explains that for digital photographs, any weird color casts you might have (such as the spooky green light in her photo at the barn) are the result of white balance - or more specifically, an incorrect white balance setting. You can fix white balance after the fact by adjusting the color temperture or saturation of a particular photo, but this post takes it a step further by explaining how you can adjust specific colors in a photo.

I even did a little homework for you to show an example - here is my straight out of the camera (SOOC) image of my daughter in her crib:

Since most of you have not seen her room in person, you'll have to take my word for it that the photo is too yellow - look closely at the crib rails and you will see a yellow cast to them (her crib is white). The yellow color cast is subtle, but it is definitely incorrect.

So I took Pioneer Woman's advice and adjusted the color in Aperture, which allows color adjustments for red, yellow, green, cyan (aqua), blue and purple tones. Since I thought the photo was too yellow and maybe even too red, I adjusted the red and yellow levers, with this result:

I think the changes are subtle but clearly an improvement - her skin tone and the whites in the photo are much more true to life, and the overall image is softer. Now I won't be so quick to delete photos that have funky color casts!

Thanks Pioneer Woman!