Color is everything

Often you'll see the terms color and tone used in the same sentence to describe color — which isn't exactly accurate. Color adjustments refer to making changes to a particular color in the entire image. Changing white balance, adjusting tint, and increasing color saturation are examples of changing color in an image. (When you adjust tone, you're changing the way those colors are distributed across different parts of the image. See the next section, "Understanding tone," for more details.)

When you first open a raw image in Camera Raw, chances are you'll need to adjust color in the image. Your digital camera collects color information for each pixel, but doesn't process the image to adjust the color to any known standard. It's up to you to adjust the amount of color in your image. The controls you use in Camera Raw to change and adjust color include

I White Balance: White balance is first adjusted in your digital camera so you can properly set up your camera for the type of lighting conditions you're shooting in.

The white balance setting in your digital camera (or the equivalent adjustment in Camera Raw) is actually a combination of color temperature and tint. In Camera Raw, you can actually set those two adjustments separately. Digital cameras today usually do a great job when you set them to do the white balance setting automatically; the camera adjusts both the color temperature and tint for the image. For instance, a room illuminated with

Figure 7-1: It's important to properly evaluate skin tones for portraits.

fluorescent lighting gives a particular look to the color of the images shot there — and it's different from what you'd get in the same room illuminated with ambient lighting. Same goes for the great outdoors: Your digital camera automatically adjusts color temperature and tint differently for direct sunlight, shade, or cloudy conditions.

i Temperature: Temperature is the precise measurement of light using the Kelvin scale (that's Kelvin, not Kevin!). For instance, daylight is measured at 5500° and fluorescent light is measured at 3800°. An outdoor photo taken with a "fluorescent" color temperature of 3800° will have a blue cast to it, as shown in Figure 7-2. If your image appears blue in Camera Raw, you can adjust the color temperature to compensate for the blue cast.

Outdoor setting at 5500° Flourescent setting at 3800°

Figure 7-2: An outdoor photo with different color temperature settings.

Outdoor setting at 5500° Flourescent setting at 3800°

Figure 7-2: An outdoor photo with different color temperature settings.

i Tint: Tint is another control you can use to tweak the look of a color in an image. The Camera Raw tint adjustment allows you to fine-tune white balance by increasing or decreasing the amount of green or magenta.

i Saturation: Saturation is simply the degree of intensity applied to a color in an image. Increasing or decreasing overall color (equal red, blue, and green channels) in an image is accomplished by using the Saturation slider in Camera Raw. In Photoshop, you can increase the Red, Green, or Blue (RGB) colors in the image individually, or by using the combined RGB adjustment.

In addition to the Saturation control in Camera Raw, the Calibration tab (shown in detail in Chapters 8 and 9) lets you fine-tune Red, Green, and Blue hues and saturation — as well as adjust for any color cast in the shadows.

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