Many times, we take color for granted. The vibrant green leaves of the trees and the bright blue sky are a daily occurrence for most of us. Although we don’t do it enough, occasionally we take a moment to savor the colors of our world, and are compelled to take a picture of it.
However, sometimes when the photo is developed, you may find that it doesn’t portray the colors as they actually appeared. Or you might find that the colors are indistinct when you scan photos into your computer. You know you’ve checked the tone reproduction, so what’s the problem? It’s likely a color balance issue, a common problem that occurs when you scan photos. If you have the right tools and know where to look, you can easily adjust the colors of a photo to create a realistic or artistic effect.
The Color Balancing Act
In elementary school, we learned that primary colors were the foundation for all other colors. Although we graduated, primary colors are still around and form each image we see. To create a particular color, primary colors must be combined with the correct ratios. We know that blue and red make purple but what happens when it looks muddy? That’s probably a color balance issue, which occurs when the primary colors aren’t mixed correctly. If you aren’t sure whether a photo’s color balance is incorrect, look at the neutral areas in the image. You should be able to tell if the color looks as if it has a red or blue tone.
Fixing Improper Color Balance
When you scan photos, you have a myriad of tools at your disposal that allow you to fix quality issues. If the color balance of a photo seems off, it could be the result of clipping. This occurs when extreme tonal ranges are lost, causing the details of light and dark areas to fade away. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, improper color balance may only occur in a portion of the picture or it could be a crossover, where a color appears as its opposite. Use sampling tools to adjust color amounts. Remember that the removal of one color only makes another stronger.
It will likely take some time to find the right color balance and ultimately, it’s a personal choice. When you scan photos, you hold the painter’s brush. Once you find the right color balance, display your photos in an artistic manner and enjoy your masterpiece.
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