New to Photoshop - Am I adjusting colors correctly? (4 images)
I just returned from a 5 month Europe trip, and I want to use Photoshop for the first time to work on my pictures. Right now I'm just trying to get the feel of levels/contrast/color adjustment by reading the basic tutorials found online, and haven't tried anything past that yet. Haven't even tried working with curves yet..

As an example, this is the original picture from my layover in New York:.

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This is what happens if I do an Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color:.

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Here's the result when I manually change levels and contrast:.

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And here's the result if I manually change levels and contrast, then do an Auto Color operation:.

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So in my completely uninformed opinion, which could definitely be wrong, the last picture is a big improvement over the automatic result. The 3rd picture seemed too blue, so I did an auto color balance. I'm just worried that since the 4th picture is so different from Photoshop's automatic output that I'm doing something wrong or not seeing things properly..

Also, any suggestions for the next step to take with this picture? Thanks...

Comments (5)

First of all, IMO, there isn't a "right" or "wrong" result (within reason, of course). It's all a matter of what works for your aesthetic perception. Some people want vivid, colorful images, others want less saturated ones..

I think (and again, this is only my opinion, it doesn't mean it's right or wrong) that the image #4 is slightly too vivid. What I would have done: start with an image close to the result of "Auto Levels", then apply some selective toning of the sky and/or the sea. If you're new to Photoshop, it might feel a bit intimidating, but it's not too difficult..

Check this tutorial, for instance,


Comment #1

It's a matter of personal taste in the end, so with that in mind .....

I'd say all was going well in the second image ( all auto )..

After that you fell into the trap of trying to hard. I think you need to think of using more subtlety..

Contrast, Gamma and Brightness are things I never adjust as they are not in the least subtle. It's very easy to completely mess up an image with these. Skin tones, in particular, are unforgiving and don't react well to these..

Learn to adjust curves manually ( and gently ) and apply small amount s of saturation ( and desaturation ). I tend to prefer applying vibrance/vividness than saturation, as it's less like a smash and grab operation ( if you get my meaning )..

And my attempt :.

Note the sky and sea have had separate adjustments, because no single all-photo change will quite do it..

The, however, is just my idea of what I'd take from that photo. What you want it to look like only you know..

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Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..

Comment #2

As others have said, a lot of this is down to your taste. Don't worry too much about achieving a look that is completely accurate. The moment has passed so you can never tell what it looked like exactly. I see slightly different colours with each eye (not by much, but I notice it if I blink from one to the other) so I can't even agree in my own head what colour something should be..

FWIW: I think the second is pretty good; 3 and 4 are slightly over-done and a bit garish (3 a lot, 4 less so). Maybe the colour in 2 is a little too pink / magenta... but I wasn't there so I can't say for sure..

If you are using Photoshop Elements it has a tool to correct colour casts by clicking an eye dropper tool on a small part of the picture that you know to be white or grey (the sail of the ship where it catches the sun? the small 'breaking' wave in the foreground?) Try correcting for colour balance using picture 2 based on one of these areas and see how it looks..

BTW... If you are experimenting like this, remember not to save over the original version from out of the camera, but to 'save as' and call it something different. Repeated saves on a JPEG will eventually degrade the image, so keep your original out-of-camera file pristine (in a separate folder?), you can always go back to it and start again..

Nice picture by the way!.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #3

As the others have said, there are many ways to proceed with PS. And the final result is variable, as each of us wants to see something a bit different. Here is how I would suggest you start (you can learn other techniques later):.

Use Levels and nothing else. Bring up levels by hitting ctrl-L. You will see something like this:.

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BTW, I'm using didn't say which flavor of PS you had..

The histogram shows that your pic doesn't have any black or white! That is why it looks dull. Fix this by dragging the black and white sliders in toward the center. Stop before they touch the curve (otherwise you will "clip"). Then select the gray eyedropper and click on the brightest part of the front sail. That will remove some of the red cast to the pic (I checked and this adjustment resulted in R=.94, G=.99, and B=1.07). Then it will look like this:.

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I cheated a bit by also doing a weak NR with Noiseware Pro (the sky looked a bit "gritty")..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog:

Comment #4

I use pe6 and cs2..

With that said I also use auto levels, auto contrast and auto sharpen. my strong advice is that unless you can see an issue/area that needs obvious improvement do not go away from that procedure..

It is very easy in an effort to improve a picture you end up making it a mess..

In any event, pic number 2 is quite good, while pic #3 is over done by quite a bit...

Comment #5

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