Out of Gamut: Don’t Underestimate Photoshop’s Auto Color
It’s Not Automatic, but It IS Quick and Easy
This is one of those techniques that takes a great deal longer to explain than it does to execute, though my painstaking blow-by-blow description might lead you to believe otherwise. The quick version goes:
- Open Levels.
- Press Options.
- Adjust Shadow clipping.
- Adjust Highlight clipping.
- Click the Midtone swatch.
- Adjust the Midtone color.
- Click OK to close the color picker, click OK to close the Auto Color Correction Options dialog, click OK a third time to close Levels and apply the changes to the image.
With a very little practice, this becomes a very quick and easy way to optimize the dynamic range and fix the color balance in a single step. To show you just how flexible this technique is, here are a couple of images that need less desperate intervention than the one we’ve been working on so far.
Figure 8: This image has too much yellow.
In this late-afternoon digital capture of San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, the golden light is a bit too golden. Three quick tweaks, and the result they produce, are shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9: That’s better.
Another San Francisco landmark shown in a very flat capture in Figure 10 needed a little shadow and highlight clipping to restore contrast, and a very slight midtone color adjustment to produce the result shown in Figure 11.
Figure 10: This image has no contrast.
Figure 11: Now it has better contrast.
There’s only one thing I don’t like about Auto Color. It’s so easy that for those of us who have been used to wrestling images into shape the hard way, getting 90 percent of the way there in three quick tweaks is almost anticlimactic. But I’m getting over it!