Your photo is blah! What’s one to do? Adjust the lighting and retake the photo with the hope that it looks better? Nah…that would be so 1990’s! Adobe Photoshop has some very cool features that make image editing for tone and color adjustments a breeze. Even if you are not a pro at Photoshop, you can achieve great results with very little experience.
The way we approach tone and color adjustments in a photo is to start with the big adjustments that will affect the overall look of the image and then work on the small stuff, the fine tuning of the image.
Adjusting Color Levels
We usually start working with the color levels. The default setting will suit most needs. There are three color levels you can use to alter or enhance your photo. They are the white, black and mid-tone adjustment sliders. These three sliders are located on the bottom of the histogram graph on the right of the Photoshop work area.
When making an adjustment to the white and black points, it is helpful to hold down the ALT key in Windows or the Option key in Mac. With the ALT/Option key held down, first adjust your white tones and the your black tones in the image by sliding the arrows to the left and right. Using the ALT/Option key while toggling the black and white tone arrows creates a mask over the image that allows you to see what detail in your photo you will lose (or gain) with the adjustment. We recommend experimenting with this so that you better understand what the masking is showing you while you are making adjustment.
With the white level adjustment, we like to adjust the white parts of the image so that they are as bright as they can be, without losing important details in the image. If you adjust the white level to high, you will wash out important parts of your image.
With the black level adjustment, we are very careful not to make the photo too dark. We do not want to darken the image so much that we cannot see important parts of the image.
The mid-tone adjusts the entire image, the dark and the white tones, at the same time. There is no magic here, just adjust the mid-tone to your liking.
So the next time your mom tells you not to take that tone with her, tell her no problem, I’ll adjust my tone in Photoshop!
Adjusting Color Balance
Next, it time to further adjust the specific colors of the image. For this, we use Photoshop’s Color Balance tool. The results can be dramatic. In order to adjust the color, go to the bottom of your screen on the right and click the Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer button and then from the pop-up menu choose Color Balance. Once you make this selection, you will have a choice of three options for how you want to adjust the tone of your image: shadows, midtones or highlights. We prefer to start this part of the image retouching with the midtones option selected. Also, we prefer the default setting for luminosity to remain checked. Now for the fun part! Slide the cyan/red slider to your desired output, then slide the magenta/green slider to your desired output and then slide the yellow/blue slider to your desired output.
Other Image Editing Adjustments
If you still think there needs to be more tweaking to your image, we encourage you to play around with the other image editing options by clicking on the Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer button. Photoshop offers you a lot of different tools that are very powerful and can alter your image dramatically. We will discuss each of these in more detail through our blog posts.
If you decide you are not happy with your image retouching results, or if you have a lot of images you want worked on, or you simply just do not have the time to do this work yourself, we are here for you 🙂 Simply upload your images through our website and we will take care of the rest and return to you professional results that will surely please you!