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Color Correcting One Problem Area Fast!

This technique really comes in handy when shooting outdoor scenes because it lets you enhance the color in one particular area of the photo, while leaving the rest of the photo untouched. Real estate photographers often use this trick because they want to present a house on a bright, sunny day, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. With this technique, a blown-out sky shot at daybreak can become a beautiful blue sky in just seconds.

  • Step One: Open the image that has an area of color you would like to enhance, such as the sky.
  • Step Two: Go to the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Hue/Saturation from the Create New Adjustment Layer pop-up menu (it’s the half-black/half-white circle icon). A new layer named “Hue/Saturation 1” will be added to your Layers palette and the Hue/Saturation controls will appear in the Adjustments palette. (Note: If you prefer using the Smart Brush tool [covered in Chapter 5], you’ll find it has a Blue Skies option that also works pretty well in cases like this.)
  • Step Three: From the pop-up menu at the top of the Adjustments palette, choose the color that you want to enhance (Blues, Reds, etc.), then drag the Saturation slider to the right. You might also choose Cyans, Magentas, etc., from the pop-up menu and do the same thing—drag the Saturation slider to the right, adding even more color, until your image’s area looks as enhanced as you’d like it. In the example here, I increased the saturation of the Cyans to 30 and the Blues to 60.
  • Step Four: Your area is now colorized, but so is everything else. That’s okay; you can fix that easily enough. Press the letter X until your Foreground color is set to black, then press Alt-Backspace (Mac: Option-Delete) to fill the Hue/Saturation layer mask with black. Doing this removes all the color that you just added, but now you can selectively add (actually paint) the color back in where you want it.
  • Step Five: Press the letter B to switch to the Brush tool. In the Options Bar, click the down-facing arrow to the right of the Brush thumbnail, and in the Brush Picker, choose a large, soft-edged brush. Press X again to toggle your Foreground color to white, and begin painting over the areas where you want the color enhanced. As you paint, the version of your enhanced photo will appear. For well-defined areas, you may have to go to the Brush Picker again in the Options Bar to switch to a smaller, hard-edged brush.
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