Consistently achieving accurate color may be digital photography's most
difficult skill to master. Shooting the same subject under different lighting
conditions can cause unacceptable color variations which can be difficult and
time consuming to correct later. Digital cameras have many more color balance
options than film ever did, but when the ambient lighting changes from shot
to shot, as it can at a wedding or stage performance, getting perfect color
in camera can be impossible.
Automated solutions promise much but are often inconsistent. Without a known
neutral in the image their color balancing act is mostly guesswork. Including
a true point of reference, such as Ed Pierce's Digital Calibration Target,
simplifies everything. The following workflow will give photographers a fast,
easy way to ensure clean accurate color.
Color Correction Tutorial
You will need a digital camera that allows you to select the white balance
and adjust exposure manually, a full version of Photoshop, a Digital Calibration
Target (#1) from www.PhotoVisionVideo.com,
or true white, black, and 18 percent gray reference cards to shoot.
Step 1--Set the camera's white balance. You can
use anything but Auto. Try and match the light source as closely as possible
and do not change your selection for the duration of the shooting session. To
create an extreme example, I set the camera to a cloudy day white balance and
used only modeling lights mixed with incandescent ceiling lights (#2) for illumination.
Step 2--Photograph the Digital Calibration Target to
create a reference image. Be sure to fill the frame with the Digital Calibration
Step 3--Now photograph your subject under the same lighting
Step 4--Next, transfer your images to your computer and
open the reference image in Photoshop. Select Image>Adjust>Curves to open
the Curves dialog (#5).
Step 5--Set the black, white, and gray points using the
eyedroppers. First, select the black point eyedropper and click it on a black
area of the target (#6). Then use the white point eyedropper to click on a white
area of the target (#7). Lastly, use the gray eyedropper and click on a gray
area of the target (#8).