Hi, Erin here with another tutorial on how to use levels in Photoshop. You can see the previous tutorial here!
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you take a photo it seems to be off in color? For instance, photos taken indoors often look yellow or orange, while photos taken outside can come out with a blue or green tinge to them.
This is called a color cast and it can happen for a number of reasons, but we are not going to get into the technical side of that today. Instead I am going to show you one way to fix a color cast using Photoshop.
Take this photo for example. It is a beautiful photo, but you will notice that it has an overall blue tone to it. Blue is not such a bad color, it lends a cooling, soothing effect, and sometimes you want that. However, in this case, the overall blueness of the photo detracts from the beautiful blue flowers, which were meant to be a key prop in the portrait.
There are several ways to fix this type of problem, but since in my last blog post I showed you how to use levels to really amp up your photos and help them pop, I thought I would show you how to use levels to correct a color cast as well.
So we open our levels menu by going to Image>Adjustments> Levels
You will notice our little histogram pops up again – but this time, before playing with the sliders, we are going to go to the Channel drop down menu. Last time we worked with the image as a whole, so we used the RGB channel – which is every color, and therefore alters the entire photo. This time we are going to select the individual color channels to make alterations.
Since blue is the color I want to alter the most, I will start with the BLUE channel.
Now this is where it gets a little trickier. In general, you need to move the middle slider to the right to decrease the amount of a color, and to the left to increase the amount of a color. However, depending on the image you are using, how dark or light it is, and how the color is distributed you might need to move the end sliders as well. The good news is that as you make changes along the histogram, the image will show you the result, so make sure you can still see the key parts of your photograph. For my image, there is a rise on the histogram for blue towards the right, which is where the lighter tones are. You can tell from the photo that the colors that should be white are actually a very pale blue. To correct that I moved the middle slider to the right to reduce the blue out some.
I then switched channels to the RED. I wanted to add some pink back into the skin tones of the people, so I moved the sliders to the left.
This created a bit of a green color cast, which I don’t like, so I then switched to the GREEN channel, and moved the sliders to the right again.
I liked this result much better, as it created a contrasting pinkish/red tone in the sky, which really brought out the beautiful blue flowers that we were wanting to capture in this portrait. This was much more pleasing that the original blue cast. There are of course a few more tweaks I need to do to finish up processing the photo, but the colors are, for the most part, where I wanted them to be.
Here is the side by side of the two images to see the changes we made.
Now if you are a person who likes to know and understand exactly how and why something works, I encourage you to do some research on using levels and really get familiar with the tool. It is an amazing way to improve your photographs.
If you would rather just experiment and do some trial and error – then go for it. Levels are so fun to play with, and it can be exciting to see what you discover just fooling around with them.
Either way, I hope this helps you a little in tweaking your precious photos so that you love them that much more!