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Changing and Adjusting Colors

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Almost any photograph can benefit from some simple color or lighting corrections. For example, you might find that a vivid sunset you photographed ends up looking rather dull and ordinary, or that a portrait taken outdoors is too dark to make out any details. Luckily, with Photoshop Elements, you're never stuck with a roll of inferior images. Photoshop Elements provides a powerful set of color correction tools, with both manual and automatic adjustments, so that you can fine-tune your images as much as you want.

In this chapter, I'll review Photoshop Elements' color-correction tools and discuss which tools you may want to use, and when you'll most likely want to use them. I'll also show you how to make sure colors display and print accurately (also known as color management) and how to correct colors and tonal values in your images. Along the way, I'll shed some light on why what may at first appear to be the most obvious color-enhancement options are not always the best choices for improving the color in an image.

About Computers and Color Models

No matter how your images got into the computer, whether from a scanner, a digital camera, or copied from a stock art CD-ROM, the version of the image stored in the computer can only approximate the colors of the original scene. A computer, at its core, is only capable of dealing with numbers, so it somehow has to come up with numerical equivalents of the colors perceived by our eyes.

Computers use number systems, called color models to display and reproduce color. One of the most common is the RGB color model. In this model, the color of each pixel is described as combinations of different amounts of the colors red, green, and blue. These colors were chosen because the cells in our eyes that respond to color (called cones) come in three types; some are sensitive to red, some to green, and some to blue. Therefore, the RGB model tries to characterize colors in a way that's similar to the way the human eye perceives them.

It's important to remember that color models, at best, can only approximate the colors in your image. No color model is as sensitive as the human eye.

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