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Color Correction >

Why Is Color Correction Hard?

Color correction can drive one crazy.


Any little perturbation in your photographic system may:

• Obliterate your ability to make changes.

• Obliterate your changes.

Little Perturbations = Obliteration

1 - Chromatic Adaptation

Your visual system acclimates to color.

This is called chromatic adaptation.

If you're correcting colors, the faint yellows and magentas that you're evaluating will become even fainter.

Take a break, periodically, when evaluating color, especially color.

See Color Shenanigans for a visual discussion of how color can appear not as it really is.

2 - Ambient Light

The color and intensity of the ambient light affect how you perceive color on a monitor or on a print.


For example, the color correction you make with sunlight coming in the windows, may not look as good later that night, with florescent light.

The warm-colored sunlight may make the color too warm.

While the green florescent lighting may make it look cooler, by reducing magenta.

Keep the lighting color neutral, and the intensity constant.

Or, use a software that will adjust your monitor for changing ambient light.


Likewise, a print evaluated for color with florescent lighting in an office, may not look as good when hung in a gallery with track lighting.

The florescent light is probably green, and the track lighting is orange.

The track lighting may be much brighter than typical office lighting.

Evaluate prints using the color and intensity of light equivalent to where they'll be displayed.

3 - Inaccurate Color Is Often Good

The term correction, often used throughout the tutorials below, implies that there's a correct color balance.

There is, but it may not be the same as the original scene.

For example, you can make a sleety day look worse, by adding blue.

Or, as discussed in the R > G > B Method, most people don't necessarily want an accurate skin tone.

They don't want to have a skin tone that's too magenta or too red.