Solution

Open the images you want to match. In this solution I'm using the two photos shown below. While the photo on the left has terrific composition, it's a bit on the dark side. This is the image that I want to modify, so we'll refer to this photo as the "target" image.

The photo on the right has nice, warm colors. This is the photo on which I want to base the lighting and color tones of the target image, so we'll call this photo the "source" image.

Target and source images

Click on the document window of the target image. Select Image > Adjustments > Match Color. In the Match Color dialog box that appears, use the Source drop-down to select the source image filename, as shown at right.

Move the Match Color dialog box so that you can see the photo underneath. The color tones of the target image have been adjusted to match those of the source image. If you're happy with the result, click OK and you're done!

Match Color dialog box

I'm having some issues, though. While I like the way the skin tones look after the color match takes place, I'm not happy with the yellow sky in the background. I'm going to click Cancel to exit the Match Color dialog box without applying the change. Instead, I'll adjust only part of the image.

Results of Match Color command

Results of Match Color command

Create a selection in the source image using either the Lasso Tool (/.), Quick Mask Mode, or any other selection method. Since I want to modify the skintones, I've made a selection that captures the lady and the child, and excludes the background, as shown at right.

Creating a selection

Next, make a corresponding selection in the target image. Again, I've created a selection of the lady and child, and excluded the background.

Applying the Match Color command to a selection
Creating a second selection

Now I'm going to have another go at matching the colors. In the Match Color dialog box (Image > Adjustments > Match Color), I'm going to check both the Use Selection in Source to Calculate Colors checkbox and the Use Selection in Target to Calculate Adjustment checkbox. I've also adjusted the Fade amount to a value of 20, as shown at left.

This time, the results look much better. Below, we can see the original photo and the final, adjusted photo.

Original photo

After Match Color

After Match Color

Final results using the Match Color adjustment

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