Thursday, January 18, 2007
Build your image corrections, step by step, using layers
3. Overall Midtones
The colors required a lot of work in this photo, but with the image's heavy tonalities, you often need to open up the tones so you can better see the color and detail you're working with. Midtones are best affected by Curves, though you can do a credible job on many images with the midtone slider in Levels. Curves simply gives you more control, as demonstrated here.
I like to work Curves by first clicking somewhere in the bottom or top of the curve (straight middle line to start), depending on whether the control is needed more in the dark (bottom) or bright (top) tones. In this case, I started with the bottom point.
Click and move the curve up or down to make the midtones lighter or darker, respectively. I moved the curve up, but it made the lighter tones in the photo too bright, so I added two control points to bring the line closer to the middle (reducing the effect on brightening). You can add multiple control points to the curve to make it move up or down. I often get by with just three control points, making adjustments a lot simpler.
4. Warming Up the Color
The tones now revealed some flat color in the photo. I wanted to boost them and get some life back into the colors, but lackluster colors caused by the light and exposure can't be fixed by just cranking up the Hue/Saturation. Overuse of Hue/Saturation is one of the most common problems we see in photographs entered in our contests.
I used a Color Balance adjustment layer over the plane. In essence, I made a warming filter, adding yellow and red with a little magenta. This kicked up the browns in the grassy hills nicely, but it also made the plane look hazy. I wanted to keep the good tonalities for both, so I decided to remove the highlights in the adjustment with a little layer mask help.
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