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Photoshop Automation: saving bad photos

In the previous part of this article, we looked at some last-resort measures to save a badly under exposed photo. Now, let's take a look at some of Photoshop's "Automated" correction tools, and see if we could have done a better job with those...

under exposed photo

Again, we'll start with the same under exposed shot, but in the next screen, we'll apply all the auto tools -- directly as Photoshop defaults.
First, I'll drag a copy of the original onto the "New Layer" button to duplicate it. This saves the original -- because now I'll just apply all the "Auto" adjustments not worrying about destructive editing...

under exposed photo

Image > Adjustments > Auto Levels
Image > Adjustments > Auto Contrast
Image > Adjustments > Auto Color

Wow. Very close indeed! Although the plate, the corn, and the cucumbers are very close to realistic, you'll note that all the shadow areas went blue, and mottled. In fact the overall shot has a certain "bluish" cast now.

under exposed photo

Again, I'll add a Photo filter, but this time, I'll use the "Warming" filter...
Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter > Warm #3
I selected number three because it's more ochre rather than orange. You should try them all. Need more?

under exposed photo

Yup. I dragged and copied the layer again to apply the filter again. I find it much more flexible to adjust two of the same filter, than going to extremes with just one. These were set to about 20% -- however, two set to 20% give a nicer result than one set to 40%. But it's still a little dankish...

under exposed photo

Finally, a Levels layer allows me to heighten the mid tones and raise the contrast. Again, sliding the right slider slightly toward the middle, and the Middle slider slightly toward the left.

Even though the hand and the dark areas of the photo are still dark and dingy, the food and the plate could be suggestive of what the diner saw that night. We could indeed now begin selecting everything in the photo other than the plate and food, and walk back through the same processes to give those different areas some adjustments. But for the sake of this tutorial, I think you get the picture --

How did we do?

under exposed photo

Comparing the results with those in the previous part of this article shows us that the Auto adjustments did a little better job at getting more true color. Actually, I knew that -- but wanted to present you with experimentation of layers before showing the automated version. A little trick.

Always try the automated tricks first -- but never forget that all the other tools are available when the auto-everything doesn't work. Mmmmmm. That looks so good, I think I'll go have a little lunch...

Thanks for reading

Fred Showker
Editor / Publisher: DTG Magazine

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