How to Do Photo Color Correction Without Photoshop
An expensive camera with numerous settings isn’t a universal formula for success. If you’re unfamiliar with such terms as ISO or shutter speed and all thumbs with dozens of buttons and dials, there’s a high probability your shots will need some adjustments in post-production. One of the most popular and effective ways to fix bleak or unnaturally colored images is to call on Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, but these programs require advanced skills and can slow down mediocre computers. In this post, we’ll reveal three simple ways to make photo color correction and get a polished picture without tiresome editing.
Eager to learn the secrets of post-processing gurus? Watch this video guide on how to color correct a photo and read the post till the end to master all the techniques shown in the video.
As you can see, there're three basic methods for bringing back colors to your photographs. You can use them separately or combine them for a better result depending on the kind of problem you're dealing with. Let's take a closer look at each of them.
How to Perform Color Correction in Photography?
- Way 1. Use auto enhancement to fix color and lighting issues in a single click
- Way 2. Adjust the lighting and tone of all the colors in your photo manually
- Way 3. Get started with the Tone Curve tool for pro-like tone mapping
To do this editing, you’ll need the best color correction software for photos. Download the free trial of PhotoWorks and try these three methods on your ruined shots to slightly touch up dull hues or completely change the tone of your photo.
Want to funk up the colors in your photo in a professional way? 3D LUT color grading packages offer you better, faster and easier color correction and creative photo looks. From amazingly creative film-like emulations to high-end cinematic color grades, PhotoWorks has got you covered!
Way 1. Automatic Color & Light Correction
Your whole photo looks too dark? Or maybe its color balance needs some improvement? Now you can tweak color and lighting settings in a single mouse click, and you don’t have to be an expert in image editing for that. PhotoWorks software is equipped with a smart enhancement module that will automatically saturate dull colors and bring back light to your picture.
While on the Enhancement tab, check the Color box to add vividness to the colors in your photo. To compare the initial picture with its edited version, hold the View Source button, or hit Before / After to see both images at once.
Revive the dull colors of your photos in just one click
If your photo suffers from lighting problems, click Auto Correction > Light. The smart module will adjust exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows. Take a look at the histogram at upper right. This chart will show you if your picture is bright enough. The even distribution of colors across the histogram means that your photo is OK now.
‘Switch on the light’ of your pictures with PhotoWorks
Keep in mind that auto enhancement works great on evenly dark or dull photos, i.e. this tool solves ‘global’ color problems. Automatic changes affect the whole image so it will fix the ruined parts. At the same time, light spots can become overexposed and well-saturated parts can turn too radiant. To touch up separate areas of your photo, try color correcting photos manually.
Way 2. Subtle Editing Through Color Sliders
How to edit colors in a picture that experiences local tonal problems? Manual color adjustment is a perfect solution if you need to bring out particular hues of your photo without changing the other tinges. That way you can brighten or darken the chosen parts, and even change the tonal mood of your photograph switching between cold and warm color ranges.
Move to the Colors tab and drag the Lights and Darks sliders right or left to balance the tones of your photo. In this case, you’ll be working with three basic colors - Red, Green and Blue. For example, if you move the Red slider on the Lights panel, you’ll make the whole image reddish. Dragging the Red slider on the Darks panel, you replace the existing red color with cyan hues. The technique is the same for the Green and Blue sliders.
Adjust the color balance of your photo manually
Way 3. Pro-Level Image Color Correction with Tone Curve
Looking for a more subtle way to adjust the color balance of your photo or improve its poor exposure? Get started with Tone Curve like professional photographers do! Similar to manual color correction, this tool gives you full control over the lightness and darkness of various picture parts. Thanks to Tone Curves, you can fine-tune ranges of the chosen tones and achieve beautiful split toning.
The Curves panel in PhotoWorks is represented by a gray graph with a diagonal line starting in one corner and ending in the other. The X axis controls the contrast of your photo, while the Y axis is used to adjust its exposure. The White Point is positioned in the right-most end. Then come Highlights. The middle of the line is marked by Midtones. Shadows are placed lower, and the Black Point can be found at the left-most end. As you move down the axis the tones in your picture get darker and brighter as you move higher.
Each pixel in your picture is formed by the combination of red, green and blue, so the RGB channel lets you edit all the colors at once. When you switch to a particular color channel, you pick that color and its secondary color. For example, when you select the blue channel, you’re working with blue and yellow. As you add points and move the curve above the initial diagonal line, it brings out the primary color in that tonal region. Any part of the curve that goes below this line adds the secondary color.
Let’s try using Tone Curve to improve the tones of the picture below.
Replace reddish tones with colder ones using photo color correction software
Type in Curves in the search bar and the program will open the tool for you. This shot looks too reddish for winter photography. Switch to the Red channel and drag the curve downwards until the tones of the photo become colder because the program accentuates the cyan hue, opposite to the red color.
Color correction with curves gives you a chance not only to adjust any given tinges but also increase the overall contrast of your image. This adjustment may be of some use if you want to conceal undesired details and create deeper shadows around the central subject. Switch back to the RGB channel and create a slight ‘S’ curve to accentuate both dark and light areas. However, move Tone Curve carefully otherwise your color corrected photos will look rather grotesque.
Straight-out-of-a-camera pictures often look less impressive than you expect them to be. However, you can easily resurface some lost details, reduce the noise level and restore natural colors if you take your shots in RAW. This uncompressed file format preserves a lot of data received right from the camera sensor and leaves ‘breathing space’ to post-production improvements. With PhotoWorks software, you can edit RAW images in the highest quality with a dozen of ready-made presets.
Tone Curve is a universal tool that lets you create your own artistic filters. Working with the Red, Green and Blue channels in turns, you can apply the tone mapping effect to any of your photos. For an immediate eye-catching result, pick the preset you like, and give your pictures a new polished look in a single click.
If you don't want to install extra software to your PC, you can try color correcting your pictures online. However, most of the online editors don't offer any professional toolkit.
PhotoWorks software is here to make sure your final photo looks great and conveys the right feeling. To correct colors of your pictures, you no longer need to study tiresome tutorials like you do with Lightroom or Photoshop. With PhotoWorks, you can bring in more light, get rid of unwanted objects, take shadows out of pictures, improve poor composition or remove glare from photo in a single click. The same goes to more complex things, like old photo restoration. If you need to restore old photos, simply launch the program and enjoy the easy and fun process of image editing!