How To Increase Hue Contrast In Your Images With Lab Color Mode

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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.

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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 ?


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Mastering Color Management

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Use color management to make better files and insure others see them in their best light.

 

1. 6 Simple Steps to Good Color Management
Take these simple steps to get consistent high quality color.

2. Step 1 – Using ICC Profiles 
Assign ICC profiles to make color consistent and predictable.

3. Step 2 – Profile Your Monitor
Calibrate your monitor with hardware.

4. Step 3 – Photoshop Color Settings
Set good Photoshop Color Settings in seconds.

5. Step 4 – Softproof
Preview how your print will look before printing it.

6. Step 5 – Navigate Your Printer Driver
Set good color management policies in your printer driver.

7. Step 6 – Control Your Environment
Use good quality light in neutral environments to evaluated your images.

8. Profile Your Printer
Better printer profiles help make better prints.

9. Editing Spaces Compared
From small to large, standard RGB editing spaces including sRGB, Adobe RGB (1998), and ProPhoto.

10. Choose A Wide Gamut Editing Space
Choose a wide gamut editing space to make the best prints possible.

11. 16-Bit (Adobe Photoshop Master Class)
Thousands of shades of gray reduce posterization.

12. What to Do with Color Management Dialogs 
Know what to do with the color management dialog boxes you encounter.

13. The Difference Between Converting Versus Assigning With Color Profiles 
Understand the difference between assigning and converting to a profile.

14. Rendering Intents Compared 
Perceptual, Relative Colorimetric, Absolute Colorimetric, Saturation.

15. Where to Put ICC Profiles 
ICC profiles need to be filed in the correct location on your computer.

16. Test files 
Find out more about what to test.

17. X-Rite’s Color Checker Passport Camera Profiles 
X-Rites’ Color Checker Passport can be used to quickly deliver more accurate color in a variety of ways.

18. Managing Camera Profiles 
If you make camera profiles customized for your camera, sooner or later you’re going to want to rename or delete a few.

19. Chromix Colorthink
Colorthink graphs ICC profiles for visual comparison and contrast.

20. Solux Lighting
Choose full spectrum lighting with an appropriate brightness and temperature.

 

View videos on using X-Rite’s color management solutions here.

 

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Explore The Power Of Color Psychology

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Understanding color psychology will help you use its powerful effects to communicate more effectively.

 

1. What In The World Is Color Psychology 

2. All The Symbols The Rainbow Contains

3. All The Words Of The Rainbow 

Find the words to describe that color or figure out what that word means.

4. Red 

5. Blue

6. Yellow

7. Orange 

8. Green 

9. Indigo

10. Violet

11. Brown

12. White 

13. Gray

14. Black

15. The Colors Of The Seasons | Coming

16. Color Psychology Test – Luscher

17. Color Psychology Test – Color Personality Test 

18. Color Psychology Test – Cymbolism

19. 3 Great Books On Color Psychology 

20. How To Make Color Psychology Your Own 

 

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The Art Of Color Adjustment

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The power of color offers you extraordinary creative capabilities and you’ve never had more control than today.

 

1. Infinite Variations

The possibilities seem limitless. Explore your options before you commit to a solution.

2. How To Evaluate Color Adjustment Tools

Identify the go to, exotic, and redundant tools.

3. What You Can Do With Raw That You Can’t With Phoshop Unless … | Coming Soon

Adjust Raw files and individual layers with the most robust color adjustment feature.

4. Blend Modes 

Make all of Photoshop’s color adjustment tools more precise.

5. Curves 

It’s the most precise tool for adjusting luminosity and hue.

6. Raw Or Shadows / Highlights For End Range Detail | Coming Soon

Increase separation in the darkest and lightest values.

7. High Pass 

Choose between planar contrast or edge sharpening.

8. Curves, Clarity, Dehaze, High Pass, Texture and Sharpening Compared

How do you choose between so many ways to control luminosity contrast?

9. Curing Dehaze Color Artifacts 

Try this quick fix to eliminate Dehaze color artifacts.

10. Hue/Saturation & Vibrance & HSL Compared

They’re the most powerful tools for adjusting saturation.

11. White Balance, Photo Filter, Color Overlays, and Curves Compared 

How do you choose between so many ways to control color temperature?

12. Why Achieving Neutrality In Your Images Is So Important

Make your color more believable, saturated, and three-dimensional.

13. 4 Ways To Achieve Neutrality 

How you achieve neutrality sets the foundation for future color moves.

14. Selective Color

It makes very precise changes like no other tool.

15. Use LAB Color Mode To Increase Hue Contrast 

Use LAB mode for greater hue separation.

16. Blending Channels  

Use the information in one channel to improve another.

17. Adobe Camera Raw Filter 

Using ACR on layers lets you use Photoshop’s precise masking with it.

18. Color Lookup

Color grading can give many images a similar look or individuals a unique one.

19. Color Grading

Make the color in your images more expressive with this easy split toning solution.

20. Gradient Maps 

Add new color into specific ranges of luminosity.

21. Match Color

Transfer color from one image to another.

22. Synthetic Profiles 

Make big changes non-destructively by redefining color values.

23. Before You Mask Use The Tool’s Selectivity | Coming Soon

The results are faster and sometimes better.

 

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Color Theory

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Understanding color theory will help you appreciate and make more effective color choices.

 

1. The Best Books On Color Theory
Deepen your appreciation and understanding of color with these books.

2. What Is Color Theory ? | Download
Here are the essentials on which you can base your conceptual foundation of color.

3. An Artist’s Palette | Download
One of the most distinctive things about an artist’s work is his or her use of color.

4. One Strategy For Creating Many Successful Color Palettes

Most successful palettes do this one thing.

5. How To Find The Infinite Color Possibilities One Image Contains

The possibilities seem limitless. Explore your options before you commit to a solution.

6. Why B&W And Color Don’t Mix
They’re two different realities; unless you use them as a code for that, present them separately.

7. B&W Palettes | Download
Here are a few examples of black and white palettes drawn from the history of photographic practice.

8. B&W Expanding the Definition | Download
What is a black and white image? Your definition may be very narrow or very broad.

9. 3 Types of Color

10. 3 Elements of Color

11. Color Analysis

12. Graphing Color

13. Saturation

14. Color Temperature 

15. Gradation

16. Simultaneous Contrast

17. Transparency & Translucency

18. The Weight Of Color

19. Proportion | Coming Soon

20. A Brief History Of The Color Wheel

21. Why Photographers’ And Painters’ Color Wheels Differ

22. How To Use Color Wheel | Coming Soon

23. All The Words Of The Rainbow

Find the words to describe that color or figure out what that word means.

24. Color is an Event

It happens when a source, a surface, and a viewer come together.

 

    Test – Farnsworth – Munsell ColorIQ Challenge


1. Exercise File – Memory
Free to Members

2. Exercise File – After ImageFree to Members

3. Exercise File – TransparencyFree to Members

4. Exercise File – IntervalsFree to Members

5. Exercise File – Simultaneous Contrast 3=4  | Free to Members

6. Exercise File – Simultaneous Contrast 4=2 Free to Members

7. Exercise File – Optically Neutral  | Free to Members

8. Exercise File – Analysis  | Free to Members

4 Ways To Enhance Color Temperature In Your Images

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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.


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Why Neutrality In Your Images Is So Important

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Achieving neutrality in your images is so important. Few things are as important. Why?
Here are 4 reasons.
1 – The color in your images will appear more believable.
Casts make colors seem false. This is true for memory colors like fire engine red, sky blue, and grass green, particularly true for flesh tones (Are you feeling a little bit green today?), but nowhere more true than with neutrals. There can be some debate about which blue is sky blue. On which day? At what time? But there’s very little debate about what gray is truly neutral. Sure those neutral grays can vary in brightness but not hue or saturation. Make the neutrals in your images truly neutral and you’ll make the other colors in your images more believable.
2 – The colors in your images will look more saturated.
When you remove color casts you can see the colors beneath them more clearly. The color beneath appears purer. This effect won’t be as strong as if you had increased their saturation. It will be subtler but more convincing. Oversaturated colors often appear false and you’ll have to work the saturation of your colors twice as hard if they contain color casts. Clean color is a great foundation to add saturation to. You can get the best of both worlds.
3 – Your images will appear more three-dimensional.
Without casts, the colors in your images will have more contrast.
They’ll have more luminosity contrast. When they’re not unified by a color cast, luminosity or brightness values will become more distinct.
They’ll have more hue contrast. Often shadows will appear cooler while highlights appear warmer, making them appear even more different than they already are.
They’ll have more saturation contrast. When neutrals are neutral you’ll get maximum contrast between them and the more saturated colors in your image.
Add these three kinds of color contrast together and you’ll see a dramatic difference in your images. The illusions of three-dimensional depth and volume in our two-dimensional images will be significantly amplified.
Once again, these effects will be powerfully felt but not obvious. Clean colors won’t call attention to themselves because they seem natural, unlike imbalanced images that you’ll need to over-process to get similar effects.
4 – You’ll have the best color foundations to make black and white conversions from.
It sounds strange when you first hear it but color matters even when you’re going to remove it. The maximum hue and saturation separation created by achieving neutrality gives you more control about how dark or light to make hues during conversions to black and white.
5 – You’ll know color management is working.
Neutrals are one of the first things to look for when you’re checking your color management for printing, whether it’s evaluating a viewing light, examining a profile, a rendering intent, or a media setting. You not only look for neutral midtones but also neutrals throughout the entire tonal scale (gray balance). If you’ve achieved both your color management is working correctly. If not, check your system.
I’m sure you’ll find a few more reasons why neutrality in your images is so important.
Achieving neutrality in your images isn’t something you do for all of your images. There are many exceptions. Nevertheless, being able to achieve neutrality in your images a critically important skill. When you know how and why to achieve neutrality all of your color choices become more sensitive, deliberate, and meaningful.
Read more on Color Adjustment here.
Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.
 

4 Ways To Achieve Neutrality In Your Images

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There are many ways to achieve neutrality in your images. The results they offer are not same. You need to know the differences so you can make better choices and get solutions that are right for you and your images. Explore them and you’ll be more likely to make better choices for your images in the future. Keep exploring them and you’ll open up a world of possibilities within your images.
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Lightroom & Camera Raw White Balance Dropper and Sliders
The simplest way to achieve neutrality is to correctly set white balance during Raw conversion, with Lightroom or Camera Raw. Click on the eyedropper tool and click on a target area within the image. It’s that simple.
What’s not so simple is identifying a good target. This will be easy if you photographed a color checker within the image or in a separate exposure at the same time, but few do. If you’re like most photographers you’ll have to identify a good target visually, introducing a margin of error equal to your discernment. Usually the best choices are midtones. This tool also works well with highlights; but they’re more likely to carry color casts that you won’t see at first glance.
After you click on a target, the results can be refined further with the Temperature (blue to yellow) and Tint (green to magenta) sliders.
Remember, you can use Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop too.
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Normal blend mode

Color blend mode

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Match Color
Match Color is Photoshop’s often unfound and overlooked feature that offers such sophisticated results when neutralizing colors that it’s often surprising. Not all colors will be affected equally – and that can be a good thing. Using Match Color is even easier than using Lightroom / Camera Raw’s white balance eye-dropper because you don’t need to click on a target. Simply check the box Neutralize – and leave all the other sliders and drop down menus alone.


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How To Master Saturation In Your Images

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Saturation Is An Essential Key To The Success Of Your Images
One of the most distinctive features of a visual artist’s use of color is their use of saturation. When you think of Ansel Adams’ photographs you think of neutral images rather than highly saturated ones. When you think of Matisse’s paintings you think of supersaturated images rather than neutral ones. Think of your use of saturation as an essential element that will help you define your own signature style.
One of three elements of color (luminosity, hue, and saturation), saturation can give your images specific qualities of energy and light. Here are five things you can do with saturation: one, increase energy and impact; two, add complexity by revealing hidden hues; three, restore life to listless hues; four, calm colors that are distracting; or five, produce softer semi-neutral and pastel palettes.
Read more about Saturation here.
Together, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop offer an impressive, almost overwhelming, array of possibilities for controlling saturation. Do three things before you choose a tool to adjust saturation with. First, understand and develop your eye for saturation. Second, adopt a consistent strategy for exploring the possibilities it offers your images. Third, understand the differences between the tools, both how they function and the effects they produce.
Know What To Look For
Knowing what to look for will help you choose a direction, a tool, and how far to go with it. It will also help you evaluate the results you produce – and quite possibly improve them further.


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