Improve Color in Your Macro or Close-Up Image - dummies

Improve Color in Your Macro or Close-Up Image

By Thomas Clark

Color plays an important role in macro and close-up photography, whether it’s to depict a small subject for what it truly looks like (as in small product photography) or to create a certain mood in an image (such as a blue cast, used to create a cool feeling).

Postproduction processing puts you in total control of the colors in a photograph. No matter what type of light an image was photographed in and what color balance settings were used at the time of exposure, you can determine which works best when you’re viewing the image on your computer’s monitor.

For instance, if you took a photograph in the shade but your camera was set for a daylight color balance, photo-editing software enables you to convert the color balance to open shade to give the image a natural look. You can even fine-tune the color balance settings to custom fit your specific image and the look you want it to have.


100mm, 1/320, f/8, 800

By adding warm tones to an image, you can give it that sunset look. Cool tones can help to create a more frigid look. Plus, you can adjust saturation and vibrancy to make your images more or less colorful.

Some of the tools that enable you to manipulate color include the following:

  • A Curves layer allows you to alter the amount of red/cyan, green/magenta, and yellow/blue in an image. This tool provides four curves: one for brightness, one each for the red channel, the green channel, and the blue channel.

    You add red by increasing the height of the red curve. To take out red (or add cyan) you lower the height of the red curve. Increase the height of the green curve to add green. Do the opposite for magenta; the same goes for blue and yellow.

  • The Hue/Saturation tool enables you to increase or decrease saturation and brightness in an image. It also lets you change the hue of the entire image or specific color groups that you choose.

  • Selective Color is a tool that uses (C)yan, (M)agenta, (Y)ellow, and Blac(k) to alter colors in an image. Choose a specific color and manage how much of the four determining colors are used to make up that color in your image.

  • The Vibrance tool enables you to adjust the levels of vibrance and saturation in an image.

  • The Channel Mixer filter lets you alter the colors in an image by controlling the output of each channel (red, green, and blue). It works great for changing a color image to black and white. Click the monochromatic box and then determine how each channel affects the tonalities of your image.

  • Color Balance is similar to a Curves layer, but it provides less precise control. This tool is ideal for creating general changes to the overall color of an image.

  • Photo Filter offers many filters that were traditionally used by film photographers to warm, cool, change the color, or increase contrast in an image. These filters are designed to mimic the effects of the original filters they’re named after.

  • Black and White: Arguably the best way to change an image to black and white is with this filter. It provides control over each color in your image and how bright those colors appear when converted to grayscale.