Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Color Choice Isn't By Chance
Getting color right isn't just about the scientific quantities of the Kelvin scale and wavelengths of light; it's also about emotion and creativity.
Saturation. Using the LCH Editor, you'll want to selectively apply saturation, making individual or groups of colors more vibrant, enabling them to stand out from muted colors. You'll typically find this tool in the LCH Editor, but it may be a stand-alone feature in the software you choose.
Color temperature. Your camera's control for white balance will take care of each scene's overall condition, but when your scene has a mix of color temperature, you'll need computer control. Mixed white balance is an example of a scene condition that can benefit (and make your work easier and faster) from available tool control. Under such conditions, turn off the camera's auto white balance and apply your choice of a fixed white balance.
If you recognize that a scene has mixed white-balance conditions, I recommend that you change your camera's white-balance setting from Auto and set it to a fixed selection that most closely matches the scene's basic white balance. Later, when your images have the same white-balance rendering, it'll be easier to perform a batch-processing change. If you've used Auto White Balance, each image may have a subtle difference, and this can interfere with batch processing, slowing your workflow!
Tint. As a result of a reflection from a colored surface, a portion of an image will take on an unwanted tint (cast of color). Under this condition, you can make an overall color-balance adjustment, or apply the adjustment selectively if the tint appears in only a portion of the image.
You can examine several tools (color balance, hue, warmth and cooling) to make tint adjustments, with the final selection to apply a tool that can control the specific color cast you encounter. Selective application tools are very powerful.
Brightness and contrast. In most software, these controls are typically applied uniformly throughout an image, thus changing the exposure's appearance. Some software will give you the option for selectively applying each control.
RGB content. Several of the preceding descriptions involve RGB (red, green, blue) content. Among various software programs, the ability to adjust, and the manner in which the software's tools operate, will vary. Your choice will depend upon the technical advantages and your comfort operating the selected software.
Warmth and cooling. This is an aspect that you apply uniformly across an image, as when you make a minor correction for white balance or wish to create a special effect. Selective application will be useful when you want to balance the appearance of individual portions of the image. This tool is also useful for making minor adjustments to areas of the image that have a slightly different white-balance appearance.
Color aberration correction. Really good optics minimize color fringing, but some fringing is inevitable, especially when corner areas of an image are highly magnified. Some software can automatically “erase” color aberrations, and others provide tools that let you “eyeball” the adjustment. This tool is great for putting a pro's finishing touch on an image.
I hope this article motivates you to learn about color. Color is a complex topic. I encourage you to research, find software to meet your expectations and then diligently experiment. Hone your skills, enjoy the process and good luck!
Different software programs provide different image-editing tools. The software that I regularly use includes the following: ACDSee, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon Capture 4. I also like the creative tools that are available from onOne Software. I constantly search for new software tools and always look forward to the next designer's creative vision.
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