Color correction is one of the first steps in editing an photograph. When I am working with people, I get asked what makes something color correct? Does that mean the colors are real? True? Accurate? Pleasing? And, the answer is a little of all that. The big first step of color correction is the removal of an unwanted color cast. When we remove the unwanted cast, we can then focus on creating the color structures we want in the image. So what defines a color correct print.

  • Color that expresses and contributes to the meaning and intention of the photographs
  • The colors of the image must be plausible and believable in the context of the light source. In some cases, you have to include the light source to explain the colors that are outside the scope of “believable.”
  • A print that has proper density values when printed. (not too dark or light)
  • A print that has the unwanted color cast removed showing the full values, hues, tones, and luminosity of an image.
  • White and neutral values should appear neutral and natural. This appearance does not mean that they have no color cast and are “numerically pure” because even neutrals can have a hint of tint and tone.

When working on a color correct image, there are some other aspects to consider that can help you quickly edit your images.

The shadow will contain the opposite color of the illumination or light source. In daylight (yellow light from the sun) causes blue shadows.

Adjustments to luminosity should come before adjusting color. Shifts in color can often cause a perceived change in values of density and luminosity.

A good print must establish a relationship between light and shadow as well as colors.

A color cast will appear uniform and consistent across the entire print. The cast might be more apparent in neutrals, but have an impact on the entire experience of the print. Often time easiest to see the unwanted color cast in the highlights.