144. Correct Color Manually
145 Correct Color, Contrast, and Saturation in One Step
146 Adjust Hue, Saturation, and Lightness Manually
147 Adjust Saturation for a Specific Area
Although the eye is more sensitive to differences in lightness and contrast than it is to color, when the color spectrum in a photograph is out of balance, it stands out like a sore thumb. For example, old photographs can appear to have a red cast, and photos taken without enough light can have a yellow cast. Color casts happen when all the colors in an image tend to show a bias toward one frequency, rather than displaying no bias at all. Even an image that is predominantly green can have a red color cast as a result of aging, which drags both the greens (and the opposites that make them stand out) toward the yellow side of the color spectrum. You can use the Remove Color Cast option in Photoshop Elements to correct a color-cast issue.
Color cast The unwanted predominance of a particular color throughout an image, caused by improper white balancing at the time the image was taken, or the fading of inks in an old printed image.
After you've selected the Remove Color Cast option, you select a portion of the image that should be white, gray, or black. Photoshop Elements uses the area you designate to determine the color cast in the photo. Whatever color must be removed to make the selected area white, gray, or black is the color removed from the entire photo.
Select the Layer
Open the image you want to correct in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. You can correct the color cast in an image only one layer at a time. If your image has several layers, you must correct the color cast in each layer separately. If the Layers palette is not visible, select Window, Layers. In the Layers palette, make sure that the desired layer is selected. If there is only one layer in the image (the Background layer), click to select it.
Choose Enhance, Adjust Color, Remove Color Cast
Select Enhance, Adjust Color, Remove Color Cast from the menu to open the Remove Color Cast dialog box.
Because determining the extent of color cast in an image relies on how you see color, it's a good idea to calibrate your monitor before you start this process to ensure that you're seeing color as you should. See 105 Ensure That What You See Is What You Get for details on monitor calibration.
Set Black, White, or Gray Point
When the Remove Color Cast dialog box is displayed, the mouse pointer changes to the Eyedropper tool when you drag it over your image. Using this pointer, click an area of the image that should be white, gray, or black. Photoshop Elements relies on your eyes to identify the shades in your photograph that should have no color bias whatsoever. The program asks you to click a black, gray, or white area; more accurately, it could have asked you to click any area that should have no distinct color whatsoever. The extent to which the area you clicked does have color is measured as the amount of color cast in the entire image.
Correct Color Cast
Click the OK button to close the Remove Color Cast dialog box and correct the color cast in the image.
The color cast correction does not actually occur in your image until you click the OK button. (If you do not want to make the correction, click the Cancel button to close the dialog box.) The color cast corrections are applied to your photo. This process might take a few seconds.
If the Preview check box is enabled on the Remove Color Cast dialog box, you can see how the image will be corrected before closing the dialog box. If you do not like the correction, click the Reset button to undo the correction and select a different gray point within the image.
View the Result
When you're satisfied with the results, make any other changes you want and save the PSP file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
This example features the undamaged part of a 50-year-old Polaroid. It needs a lot of work to bring it back, but the first step is obviously a removal of the greasy yellow color cast that's a result of the degradation of the plastic coating bonded to the print (more than the print itself). What in this photograph do we really know to be white? The best guess is the second button from the top on Great Grandmother Nellie's pullover sweater. That's the spot I used as the white point for this image. With the yellow color cast corrected, you can see there's still a lot of work to be done, but bringing the natural color spectrum back has gone a long way toward improving the image. Look for the final version of this photo in the Color Gallery.