The Image Adjustment Lab is an area within PHOTO-PAINT that allows you to make global changes, correcting the color and tones of most images quickly and easily. Before using the Image Adjustment Lab, it’s best to do any cropping or retouching beforehand.
Also, if you have any masking to do, it’s a good idea to do that beforehand as well. Since the Image Adjustment Lab will make global corrections to your images, masking off the areas that you don’t want to be color corrected is important. My suggestion is to take only the areas that you want corrected and copy those sections as separate Objects (layers).
Some of the features of the Image Adjustment Lab allow you to:
- Look at a before and after preview of the section you’re working on.
- Create an Auto Adjustment (which is often a correct color balance or very close to it the first time you use it).
- Set a White and Black Point.
- Make global corrections such as Temperature, Tint, Saturation, Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows and Midtones.
- NEW: The Real-Time Histogram allows you to edit images with greater accuracy. The histogram lets you know if the highlights or shadows will be clipped and it also shows you if the dynamic range has been expanded too much (which may create a posterizing effect). It’s recommended that you use the automatic features first. If they don’t give you the result you’re after, then you can start experimenting with the various sliders.
- Use the Create Snapshot feature to take snapshots of your work in progress. These are displayed below the working image, allowing you to keep track of your adjustments. If, for any reason, you don’t like the changes, you can click on a previous snapshot to restore the color balance or you can access the Click to Reset button to start over from the beginning. These features make it relatively easy to manipulate images, but it’s easy to get caught up in the features and lose track of what you’re doing. I recommend that you keep a notebook handy when working on images (especially when working on a complex project) and take note of the settings. These will come in handy when you work on a new project with similar issues.
To access the Image Adjustment Lab, go to the main toolbar and click on Adjust: Image Adjustment Lab. This brings up the Image Adjustment Lab dialog box.
At the top of the dialog box are a number of tools which govern navigating your way around the dialog box.
- These are the Rotation tools, the Pan tool, the Zoom tools (zoom in/out, fit in window (F4) and display image at normal size) and the Preview Modes.
- On the right hand side are the automatic and manual controls which are organized in a workflow order for image correction. Essentially, you start in the upper right hand corner and work your way down. These sliders (which include the option for numeric entry include: Auto-adjust, Temperature, Tint, Saturation, Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows and Midtones.
- The Auto adjust button is often the only tool you’ll need. It corrects the lightest and darkest areas and adjusts the tonal range in each channel.
- The White/Black point automatically adjusts the contrast in the image. The black/white eyedroppers also create some tonal neutrality in the image and aren’t just for setting the white/black points.
- The Temperature slider corrects the color casts by “warming” or “cooling” the color casts in the image. This allows you to compensate for lighting issues at the time the photography was taken.
- The Tint slider governs the green and magenta in an image and is the control you would use after the Temperature slider to fine-tune the image.
- The Saturation slider controls how vivid your colors are. Moving the slider to the right increases the effect while moving it to the left decreases the effect.
- The Brightness slider controls the overall brightness or darkness of an image.
- The Contrast slider contros the difference in tone between the light and dark areas of an image. Use of this control can mute colors or increase image detail.
- The Highlights slider controls the brightness in the lightest areas of the image. Here, you would also use the Midtones and Shadows sliders to fine-tune the image. Of the next two controls the Shadows slider lets you adjust the brightness in the darkest parts of the image, while the Midtones slider controls the brightness in the midrange tones of an image.
- Directly below these controls are the Real-Time Histogram, the Hints pane and the Create Snapshot button. As mentioned earlier, the histogram lets you know if the highlights or shadows will be clipped and it also shows you if the dynamic range has been expanded too much (which may create a posterizing effect).
- The Hints pane gives you information about each slider and gives information about how to use them. To see the corresponding hint for a given slider, hover your mouse above the slider and the information will appear.
- Below is the Create Snapshot button. This is used to preserve details of the changes you make as you go through the process of correcting an image. Each snapshot contains the detials of your changes. Clicking on Create Snapshot creates a thumbnail beginning on the lower left of your images. These allow you to revert to an earlier stage of image correction in case you don’t like what you’ve done currently.
- Immediately after that are the Undo/Redo and Reset to Original controls which appear on the lower left of the dialog box. You can use these buttons to Undo/Redo parts of your image, or click on the Reset to Original button to reset your image to the beginning of your corrections.
The Image Adjustment Lab Dialog Box
Ideally you’ll want to take care of light/color correction issues on location, but that isn’t always possible.
Beyond this chapter is a video tutorial that I’ve created on how to use the Image Adjustment Lab. Another option for image corrections is to work with the Tone Curve, which is also quite effective.