Today over at TipSquirrel.com I posted an article on 5 ways to do color correction on a discolored image. The image I used, from my actual working files, is a 70’s era image that had taken on a reddish hue. The client was convinced there was no color left and asked me to do the best I could even if I had to make it black and white. I try to tell clients that it’s very, very rare to find an image that can’t be fixed; I can count on one hand the number of lost causes I’ve had in all the years I’ve been doing this and that’s a lot of years and thousands of images. I just don’t give up that easily.
The first thing I tried was Curves. A Curves adjustment is the first thing everyone thinks of when it comes to color correction, and I admit I’m no different. I also know, however, that it’s the rare image that Curves will be the only thing that needs to be done.
There’s still a yellowish color cast to the image, so I used the Eyedropper tool and sampled the image, just an area in the sky.
In the menu bar, I selected Image > Adjustments > Inverse, then changed the Layer Blend Mode to Soft Light. That took care of most of the yellow tinge.
Next I made a new, blank layer, chose a green color and painted where the grass was, then changed the Layer Blend Mode to Color. If you don’t like the result, either lower the opacity or try another shade of green. I got the particular shade of green I used from a small area on the left side of the image that had some intact grass color.
I repeated the process for the trees, this time changing the Layer Blend Mode to Soft Light to get a completely different shade of green.
The sky needed some drastic help, so I made another layer and painted the blue I sampled from the sides with a Color Layer Blend Mode.
I then decided to paste an image of a subtly cloudy sky into it, then take the opacity down to 10%. This gives a little variation and the lighter area behind the trees takes care of some blue artifact in the tree branches that I didn’t love.
The client had told me the color of the horse and I was still seeing a little too much magenta, so I added another Curves Adjustment and brought the opacity down to 25%. That did the trick.
I then added some tinting to the clothing, skin and saddle following the same methods as the grass, trees and sky.
I’m fairly happy with the colors of the image so now all I have to do is to blend the obvious frame line. There are a number of ways I can do this, but I decide to go the easy route and use the Patch tool and Content Aware Fill. I say it’s the “easy” route, and it is indeed very easy, but that’s not to say there aren’t challenges, such as the small areas on and next to the fence. It may be easy, but it still requires attention to detail. The only casualties in this part were the tops of the trees at the edges which received a little trim.
And there we have it. The client was quite happy to have this image back!