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Date Created: 7/23/2009   Date Modified: 4/27/2012

+Correcting Image Color with Spectrum Patches

When editing images, wouldn’t it be nice to know the exact color of an object in the photo to determine whether your colors are accurate? Event and catalog photographers often shoot a large number of images that all require the same color correction. Generally, they’ll make edits based on a few key photos; then apply them to the rest of the images.

This process can pose a problem if the edited images don’t contain every color found in the others. For example, one image may have a wide range of colors, but no yellows. Another may have no reds. Which image should you edit first? How will you know what effect your edits have on the missing color? Using the ColorChecker Passport’s spectrum patches during color correction of an initial image ensures you aren’t losing perspective on colors that might show up in subsequent images and increase the success rate during automation.

To use the ColorChecker Passport spectrum patches, capture an image of the Creative  Enhancement target under the same lighting that you use for your photo session. When you open the image of the target in your image editing software and make edits, you’ll see how they will affect the rest of the colors BEFORE you apply them to your images.

Tip: Treat your profile as a starting point, then use the color and tone rendering controls to make specific adjustments.

HSL Sliders
One way to describe colors is by Hue, Saturation, and Lightness (or Brightness). Most photo editing applications offer HSL sliders to help you make specific color edits to these three characteristics. Remember that Raw editing is non-destructive, so feel free to play around with your HSL sliders to see how the colors in your target are affected.

  • Hue is the main attribute of color that distinguishes it from others, such as red, yellow and green.
  • Saturation describes the vividness of a color. More saturated colors are more vivid and pure. Less saturated colors will be less vibrant.
  • Lightness describes how light or dark a color is.

In Camera Raw, these sliders are located in the “Hue-Saturation-Luminance” tab. In Lightroom, they can be found in the “Develop” dialog.

Visual Comparison
Visually comparing the colors in an image to a physical target will help you make educated color decisions. These steps are written for Lightroom but are almost identical in Photoshop.

  • In the Develop window, select the Target tool from the upper left corner of the HSL panel.
  • Roll over the colors. They roughly correspond with the HSL sliders in the Lightroom Develop dialog.
  • To select a color and make edits, either hold down the mouse button and move the target tool up or down, or use the sliders or numbers in the HSL panel.

When doing visual color matching, be sure to use a calibrated monitor and controlled lighting conditions, such as a viewing booth, to illuminate your target.

TIP: See Automating Color Control in Raw Workflows for ways to apply color edits to multiple images.

TIP: See Why Color Management? to learn more about the benefits of calibrating your devices.