Today we are so excited to share our very first photoshop tutorial with you! In the digital age of photography not only do photographers need to master their camera settings, they also have to master processing software, such as Photoshop. Printing an image and seeing color casts you didn’t notice on your computer monitor can get costly, especially if you are having to order reprints regularly. We called upon the super talented, Fran Mackenzie (aka the queen of skin tones), of Luminessence Photography to share some tutorials that will help you identify and correct these problem areas more easily.
Fran is an extremely talented photographer based on the Gold Coast of Australia, and she is the right hand woman of the beautiful Sheye Rosemeyer of Eye Candy Workshops. If you have been looking to attend a workshop to learn more about Photoshop you won’t want to miss Eye Candy’s Enhance. The Enhance workshop is Co-facilitated by Fran Mackenzie. It includes comprehensive videos and thoroughly written tutorials, so that you are free to work at your own pace. This workshop will blow your mind, we promise! If you are looking for a friendly atmosphere where you can learn more about your camera and take your work to the next level, then be sure to check out the Explore and Evolve workshops as well.
Now for the tutorials! Make sure your volume is up, grab a notepad, get comfy, and get ready to learn!
Here are 7 tips that will help you avoid and identify color issues in your images:
1. Master the custom white balance setting on your camera
Like the exposure settings on your camera, the auto settings for white balance will do a decent job most of the time, but there will be times when the light is tricky and your images will benefit from you setting the white balance yourself. This sounds intimidating, but once you understand the process it will only take you a few seconds to do at the time of your shoot and will likely save you hours in processing time after your shoot. Canon and Nikon have slightly different procedures for setting a custom white balance, though both can be achieved using a simple piece of white A4 paper (just make sure it is white and not recycled!). The process involves taking a photo of the white paper or card following the steps outlined in your camera manual. The camera will then assess the temperature of the light based on the tone of the white paper and adjust its temperature settings accordingly. This will avoid any strong color tone issues in your image with the whites of the image reading as white regardless of the color of the light in which you are working.
2. Look for and avoid problem location areas:
Color casts are caused by color reflection. Look for strong colors in your location that could reflect off whites and skin and create casts. Red or other strong colored t-shirts or strong colors on wall are common problems. Avoid facing your subject towards these areas and avoid wearing strong colors to shoots.
3. Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate.
The only way to truly know what quality of print you are going to get back from your lab is to calibrate your monitor. Calibrations shift, just as instrument tuning does, so you do have to do it regularly. Getting color right in calibration is important, but brightness is also essential. Monitors are back lit which means that when you look at your image it is also backlit and the luminance of the screen will hide color casts. Casts are always more visible in shadow areas so whenever your screen is brighter than it should be color casts will not be as evident. There are some excellent calibration systems out there that make it very easy to do – Spyder and Eye One Systems are both great.
4. Look first to the whites in your images and the skintones.
If you are not sure about the white balance or whether casting is present in your image, a good place to start is with the whites in your image and the skintones. Are the whites looking white, or do they have a warm tint or cool tint to them? Do the skintones look natural or are your subjects looking a little cold or jaundice? Make sure you look in the shadow areas – this is where you will find the greatest evidence of casting.
5. Apply a Saturation test.
If you are still unsure about the presence of color casts (particularly which color might be causing the problem, apply a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to the image. Select each individual color from the pull down menu and increase the saturation slider up to 100%. While you are doing this, watch the skintones and whites to assess any areas of strong color that could be an issue.
6. Correct Color and Exposure first.
Always work on any color and/or exposure issues in your image before applying any creative edits. Running actions that have steps in them that saturate or tint colors will just make the color balance or casts present in your image worse if you do not correct them first.
7. Run a test print
Even when you are using a calibrated system, color casts are generally more prominent in print than on screen where the luminosity of the screen can disguise color issues. Setting up your home printer so that it matches your screen will allow you to run a test print off and assess color in print prior to sending off your work to your professional lab. If you are going to be ordering a large expensive enlargement it may be worthwhile getting a test print done at your lab prior to ordering the final product.
We hope that these tutorials and tips help you with color correcting your skin tones. To see more of Fran’s work, please be sure to stop by her blog.