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Instead of RGB, you can use Lab color mode to increase hue contrast in your images in powerful ways that no other color space offers.
How do you do it?
In Lab color mode use Curves to accentuate contrast by creating s or reverse s curves for the a and b but not the L channels without moving the midpoint.
It’s that simple. (Yes, I promise I’ll expand on this.)
However, when you use this technique there are many details that it pays to be aware of.
When To Use It
While this technique can be used on any image, it’s particularly useful when you are processing files that are predominantly one color – forest greens, oceanic blues, sandstone reds, etc. The resulting hue contrast gives these images more life by making subtle variations in hue more pronounced and more three dimensional by accentuating the differences in hue between highlights and shadows.
Lab a and b channels adjusted
Comparing It To Similar Techniques
This technique is similar to split-toning or cross-toning images, introducing one color into the highlights and another into the shadows, except that the hues are the captured colors accentuated rather than colors that are arbitrarily added. (For this reason this technique won’t work with black-and-white images.)
This technique is similar to increasing saturation or vibrance, which also makes different hues more pronounced but sometimes intensifies them to the point of making them appear unnatural. By comparison the modest increase in saturation boosting hue contrast in Lab produces is surprisingly naturalistic – and you may choose to keep it or not.
To the untrained eye the differences between this technique and others may seem subtle but once you train your eye you’ll appreciate the color richness it offers; they can approximate but never equal it. It’s like comparing the sound qualities of low and high fidelity audio recordings. Lab offers hi-fi color.
What The Heck Is Lab Anyway ?
The power of color offers you extraordinary creative capabilities and you’ve never had more control than today.
The possibilities seem limitless. Explore your options before you commit to a solution.
Make your color more believable, saturated, and three-dimensional.
How you achieve neutrality sets the foundation for future color moves.
Increase separation in the darkest and lightest values.
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Identify the go to, exotic, and redundant tools.
Make all of Photoshop’s color adjustment tools more precise.
It’s the most precise tool for adjusting luminosity and hue.
Choose between planar contrast or edge sharpening.
Add Curves contrast to High Pass contrast.
How do you choose between so many ways to control luminosity contrast?
Try this quick fix to eliminate Dehaze color artifacts.
They’re the most powerful tools for adjusting saturation.
How do you choose between so many ways to control color temperature?
It makes very precise changes like no other tool.
Use LAB mode for greater hue separation.
Use the information in one channel to improve another.
Using ACR on layers lets you use Photoshop’s precise masking with it.
Color grading can give many images a similar look or individuals a unique one.
Make the color in your images more expressive with this easy split toning solution.
Add new color into specific ranges of luminosity.
Transfer color from one image to another.
Make big changes non-destructively by redefining color values.
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The results are faster and sometimes better.
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Adjust Raw files and individual layers with the most robust color adjustment feature.
What Is Color Temperature ?
Of the three elements of color (luminosity, hue, and saturation), hue is the one most closely associated with temperature. This is a psychological temperature not a physical temperature. Most people associate red with fire or blood (warm things) and blue with sky, water, and ice (cool things), where physically a blue flame is hotter than a red flame. You can identify which hues are warmer and which are cooler by their proximity to the absolute poles of red (warm) and cyan (cool) on the color wheel. When comparing any two hues you can always ask, “Which one is warmer and which one is cooler?”. Even when comparing two variations of the same hue, very often one will be slightly warmer or cooler. Color temperature is part of what creates color variety, which is one spice of life, a very important one, especially when it comes to visual communication.
The Things You Can You Do With Temperature
Many photographers think of color temperature as something to "get right" during exposure but you can also use color temperature creatively in post-processing. You can produce many compelling color effects with color temperature. You can make distant close layers feel closer by warming them and distant layers more distant by cooling them. You can make object feel more three dimensional by warming highlights and cooling shadows. You can add a warm glow that simulates early morning or late evening light. You can You can even make day look like night, by dramatically cooling it. And every one of these moves will change the emotional tone of an image. Temperature is a critical element for communicating with color.
Lightroom & Photoshop
There are many color adjustment tools in Lightroom and Photoshop that adjust hue. Having used them all since the day they were released (or before) I regularly use four and consider them go to tools worth mastering.