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Working with Color in Photoshop

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Getting accurate color is essential when working with photographs. RC Concepcion walks you through the tools built into Photoshop (as well as third-party tools) that help you be more efficient and more accurate with color.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when working with photographs is the accuracy of color. While we cannot reasonably expect that your image will be faithfully re-created in the multitude of devices, screens, and monitors, it’s important to try to ensure that you have the best possible color when you start. Thankfully, there are several tools built into Photoshop as well as third-party tools that help you be more efficient and more accurate.

Working with Camera Raw Files

When someone takes a picture with a digital camera, the camera is responsible for using its onboard computer to calculate the color for the image given the scenario in which it is placed. More often than not, the camera attempts to look for areas of 18% grey to make its calculations, and render the color from there. Once you press the shutter, the computer creates this image-color and all-and records it into a JPG file. Recently, more and more cameras are capable of storing information in a RAW format, moving this adjustment of color to the post processing on a computer.

Opening a file in Photoshop will automatically open a companion program contained within it called Adobe Camera Raw (see Figure 1). This program allows you to work with these raw files, adjusting a varying amount of color and exposure information for your image.

Figure 1

Figure 1 The Adobe Camera Raw screen.

The Adjustment of white balance of the image is primarily done in the Temperature and tint settings of the file. If you have shot the image in a RAW format, you will have multiple options in the drop-down menu for White Balance, allowing you to make the adjustment to the proper setting (see Figure 2). However, if you have shot the image in a JPG mode, you will only see two options – As Shot and Custom (see Figure 3).

Figure 2

Figure 2 The White Balance settings for RAW

Figure 3

Figure 3 The White Balance settings for JPG

There will be times when working with the drop-down settings will not necessarily produce the best white balance on the image. In order for you to be able to take the most advantage of what the camera and Photoshop can do, you will need to take matters into your own hands.

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