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Show Your True Colors

Friday, March 2nd, 2007 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Show Your True Colors

Let’s say you go on an awesome vacation and you take tons of pictures. When you are back and refreshed from all the fun, you sit at the computer and go through all the pictures. You do this only to realize they aren’t as good as they looked through the camera’s monitor. Well, don’t be too disappointed, because today, you will learn how to bring out the true colors in your pictures that you have taken with your faithful digital camera. Of course, for this purpose, we will use our trusty sidekick of Adobe Photoshop.

Go ahead and open the image that you want to use. I am going to use an image I took on my last vacation. Here it is:

As you can see, although the object in the frame is interesting enough, the colors are dull and the whole picture has a whole “smoky” feel to it. So, let’s open the image in Photoshop and the first thing we are going to do is change the image mode from RGB color to lab color. To do this, go to Image, Mode, Lab Color.

Once you’ve done that, go to the Channels palette. Or, you can go to the Layers palette and click on the Channels tab. You will see four channels: Lab, Lightness, A and B. We will start by double clicking channel A (or you can press Ctrl + 2).

Don’t be scared if your image starts to look weird and grayish. Don’t worry, you haven’t ruined anything. We are now going to go ahead and adjust the levels of this channel. To open the levels dialogue box, hit Ctrl + L or go to Image, Adjustments, Levels. We aren’t going to make anything too bright or too dull. The idea is to keep a balance between the two. So, go ahead and get the level sliders to the positions given in the screenshot below. Somewhere in the middle, with nothing too extreme. However, as I always say, to know how the sliders work, just play around with them and see what different results you can get.

Now, go ahead and select channel B. We are going to go ahead and do the same level adjustment on that. Get the sliders in the same position as you had on channel A. It will probably look a little weird still, but don’t worry. The next step is to click on the Lab channel. Ta da! Your image is ready. Below, you can see what I ended up with.

You should be able to see the improvement clearly. This is possibly one of the easiest ways to improve your pictures and get the true colors out of your existing images. Also, the fact that it takes hardly any time at all and only a small amount of effort, you can do it tastefully to a lot of images in just one go around. A better idea would be to make an action out of it so that everything happens automatically. To learn how to make an action, you can search WorldStart’s archives for one of my previous tutorials. So, don’t let the dull images from your camera bring you down. This is yet another trick you can keep up your sleeve that will let you take another step toward improving your images.

Happy Photoshoping everyone!

~ Yogesh Bakshi

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