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Even out light & dark colours with Photoshop/Lightroom


bee13

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[FONT=&quot]Hi all,[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I've recently started using Photoshop and Lightroom for editing my food photography but still have issues with colour correction. I often have to edit pictures where objects (like the cookies below) have fairly light and quite dark colours, but I want the overall colour to be even. For example, the cookies in the picture are light golden in the middle but quite brown around the edges and the different cookies also differ in colour. But I want to achieve a more uniform tone.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I've used the brush tool to selective lighten the darker edges but I find that it looks a bit unnatural, almost as if it just puts a veil over the original colour. I've also worked with colour masks to bring out an even undertone but I also find the colour of the end result a bit unnatural (the colour often doesn't correspond to the cookie despite adjustments) and it doesn't really resolve the problem of the uneven light/dark bits.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Very grateful for your advice or if you know of any useful links to existing tutorials![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Many thanks,[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Bee


[/FONT]
 

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Eggy

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First I used the 'image/adjustment/shadows-highlights' filter to equalize the light and dark colors as much as possible.
Then on a layer in soft light blend mode I painted with the selected color over the dark contour of the cookie to remove the darker edge.
Note: I only did the one cookie

Untitled-1.jpg
 

Tom Mann

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I used two steps: First, a global adjustment using Topaz Adjust. Then, a color adjustment and a levels adjustment masked to the edges of the cookies.

The result of each of the two steps can be seen in the following animated GIF:

20170205-Ginger-snaps-cookies-thins-2-2-tjm01-acr0-ps03b-for_GIF_698px_wide-annotations_merged.gif

A full rez version of the final result is attached below.

In the next post, I'll describe the process in more detail. I've got to run out for a moment, but I should be able to post that in 15 minutes or so.

Tom M
 

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Tom Mann

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Here is the procedure I used to even out the lighting on the cookies as well as their actual darker edges:

1) I made a rough selection of just the cookies and saved it for future use. This can be seen as the mask in my layer #01. Here is my layer stack.

2017-02-08_124028-my_level_structure.jpg
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2) In my experience, the quickest way to even out lighting non-uniformities in a situation like this is the 3rd party plugin, "Topaz Adjust". Here are the settings I used:

2017-02-08_113051-Topaz_adjust_settings.jpg

The results of applying Topaz Adjust is the actual content of my layer #01.
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3) To make it easier for me to construct the layers I knew I would later need when I wanted to make the animated GIF, I saved the masked result of layer #01 as an unmasked layer #02. Obviously, this would not be needed if I wasn't going make the GIF. I did this elsewhere, as well.
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4) Topaz Adjust nicely tamed down the overly bright centers of the cookies, and brought up the edges a bit, but this wasn't enough. Obviously, even after Topaz Adjust, the edges are still darker and have a different color than the centers. So, I added layer #03, a "levels" adjustment layer to take care of the darkness.

I then added layer #04, a color fill layer to take care of the difference in color. I averaged the color in the center of the nearest, top cookie, and set the color of the fill layer to be the same. I then set the layer blending mode to "color".

Obviously, I only wanted to have the above two adjustments applied to the edges of the cookies, so I gathered both the color fill and the levels layers in a group (my layer #05).

Initially, I masked this black so as to be completely off, and then painted in white on the mask in those areas where I wanted these two corrections to be visible.

These two corrections overcorrected the bright specks in the edges, so I used BlendIF conditions on both of the adjustment layers so that their effects were concentrated in the darker tones. I split the RHS BlendIF slider to do this.
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5) The result can be seen in my layer #06.
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6) After these corrections, the motion blur really became even more pronounced, so this is when I applied PS's anti-shake filter to try to reduce it. The result is in my layer #07.

Sorry, but I have to get this out of the way: There is absolutely NO excuse for motion blur like this in a completely static product shot.

20170205 Ginger snaps cookies thins-2-2-tjm01-acr0-ps01a-00_crop_showing_blur.jpg

This is an essentially unforgivable rookie error. No matter what you do to make the edges of the cookies look better, if there is motion blur, even if it is relatively small (as it is in this case), your photograph will almost certainly be rejected by any experienced editor / media outlet, and your reputation as a photographer will take a hit with them. If you don't believe me, just try to get this photo accepted by Getty or one of the other well known stock agencies.

Get yourself a good tripod and use it. If you actually *were* using a tripod, then get a more sturdy one. If you were using flash and thinking that hand-holding would be ok and for some reason, you couldn't use a tripod, then crank up the flash power and shutter speed, and drop the ISO to reduce the relative contribution of the ambient light compared to the flash.

Sorry, maybe the image you posted was just one of your out-takes, but the issue of motion blur had to be said for your own good as well as anyone else reading this thread in the future.

I was able to slightly reduce this using PS's anti-shake filter (my layer #07), but the result will never be as good as getting it right in the camera in the first place.

--------------------

HTH,

Tom M
 
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