This is part of a 'How To' series on post process work.
This is an alternative method for giving an image a little colour lift, and without introducing noise. The first method was described here
The image I have used for this example was taken on a very bright day and at the salt fields. The reflection from the salt alone was glaringly bright.
As I was shooting with a large amount of sky in the background, parts of the image have become somewhat dark.
I was also using Provia film simulation, on my Fujifilm S100fs, and the scene ended up with the colours looking a little 'washed out'.
The image as taken and opened in Photoshop.
Here, I am converting the image to Lab Color by selecting - Image/Mode/Lab Color.
Once converted to Lab Color, the next step is to make a duplicate layer.
Note : A dialogue window will come up after this and you can insert a name for the new layer. I simply used the default which is 'Background Copy'.
The next step is to select - Image/Adjustments/Levels.
Once Levels is selected, a dialogue window will appear and will have the default of 'Lightness' in the Channel drop down selection box.
My first selection is to 'nudge' the highlight arrow back toward the edge of the histogram. In this case, I have stopped a little short at a value of 200.
I have also set my Output Levels to 10 (shadow) and 245 (highlight). This is to 'lift' the shadow areas slightly, and also to keep the highlights from getting out of control.
Note : The exact same process can be performed using Curves. I prefer to use Levels as it is easier
The next step is to select the Channel drop down arrow and change the Channel to 'a'.
Once selected, I have adjusted the shadow (left) and highlight (right) sliders in toward the 'histogram', and by the same amount. It is important to keep the amounts exactly the same, otherwise the colour will 'drift'.
So, here I have added 50 to the left slider and taken 50 off the right slider, so that the values I end up with are 50 and 205.
Note : You will see a significant change in colours during this and the subsequent step. Don't be concerned, we will adjust them later
The above procedure is now repeated in the exact same manner for the 'b' Channel.
With the above steps complete, the next step is to convert the image back to RGB.
This is done by selecting - Image/Mode/RGB Color.
Once RGB Color is selected, a dialogue window will open. Here we select 'Don't Flatten'.
The next step is to open the Layers window. This is done by clicking Window/Layers from the top menu.
Once opened, click the drop-down arrow next to Opacity, and a slider will appear so that the level of our process can be adjusted.
Here, I have pulled the slider left to adjust the Opacity to 70%.
Note : The level of adjustment is purely a matter of personal taste. Somewhere between 50% and 75% is sufficient for most images. Have a play with different values though
The next step is simply to reopen the Levels window again, and fine tune the adjustments now that the image has been converted back to RGB.
Here, I have opted to pull the highlight slider closer to the histogram and also adjust the mid-tones slightly darker. My values have ended up as 0, 0.95 and 240.
I have also set my shadow and highlight Output Levels at 5 and 250 respectively. This helps to ensure that highlights are not blown out and also shadow areas are not too dark.
As we have not yet 'flattened' the layer, the image can now be saved as either a PSD file for later adjustment, or as a Jpeg file, once flattened.
To do this, select - Layer/Flatten Image and then File/Save As and name the file accordingly.
Remember - Never save over the original image.
With this image, I used the original file name DSCF1416 and then added '1a' after. this way I know that the image has been edited and is the first iteration.
Note : I normally also resize my images so I add the dimensions to the name and also the date. A typical edited file would end up as DSCF1416 1a_1216_1010, which tells me it is an edit, is of 12 x 16" dimensions, and was edited in October, 2010
My original image.
My edited image.
Other posts in this series - Click here for the index page.