How to Use the Auto Corrections Tools in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Photoshop Creative Suite 6 has three automatic correction tools that can, in many cases, improve appearance with a simple click of a menu command: Auto Tone, Auto Color, and Auto Contrast.

Auto correct in Photoshop CS6 with Auto Tone

The Auto Tone command, uses a bit of built-in Photoshop intelligence to automatically apply the Levels command to your image. It is good to know the pros and cons of this tool to understand what is happening to your image.

Auto Tone works best with average images that could use a bit of tweaking but have a lot of detail in the highlights (the brightest portions of an image that contain detail), shadows (the darkest portions of an image that contain detail), and midtones.

Auto Tone defines the very lightest and darkest pixels of each of the three colors as white and black, respectively, and then arranges the midtone pixels in between. While it balances the tones in your image, the command watch for any introduction of a color cast. . You can fine-tune the color manually after Auto Tone has done its work.

To try out the Auto Tone command, just choose Image→Auto Tone or press Shift+Ctrl+L (Shift+Command+L on the Mac).

If by chance, even with the improved Auto algorithm, Auto Tones produces an unwanted colorcast (a slight trace of color) cancel the command and try the Auto Contrast command. If that still doesn’t improve the contrast, try the Levels command instead. Even better, try your Levels adjustment on an adjustment layer. If it doesn’t work, you can always delete it. No harm, no muss.

Auto Color correct in Photoshop CS6

The Auto Color command adjusts both the color and contrast of an image, based on the shadows, midtones, and highlights that it finds. You usually use this command to remove a colorcast or balance the color in your image. Sometimes, using Auto Color can be helpful in correcting oversaturated or undersaturated colors. You can access the command by choosing Image→Auto Color or by pressing Shift+Ctrl+B (Shift+Command+B on the Mac).

Although Auto Color can do a good job on its own, you can customize the parameters it uses to make its color corrections in the Auto Color Correction Options dialog box.


Auto Contrast in Photoshop CS6

Like its manually operated cousin, the Brightness/Contrast command, the Auto Contrast command fiddles with the overall contrast and colors (if you’re working with a color image) in an image, instead of making adjustments to each color individually. Auto Contrast converts the lightest and darkest pixels to white and black, respectively, making all highlights in the image lighter and all shadows darker without changing the color values.

This command may not do as good a job at improving contrast as Auto Tone does, but it does a decent job of retaining the color balance of an image and usually doesn’t cause any nasty colorcasts.

Try using this command on hazy images. If you find it overdoes the adjustment, try choosing Edit→Fade and bringing down the Opacity level to blend the adjusted image with your original image.

To use Auto Contrast, choose Image→Auto Contrast or press Alt+Shift+Ctrl+L (Option+Shift+Command+L on the Mac).