Painting a Color Fix


Today’s Question: At a seminar you showed us how to remove the colored “haze” caused by a reed or leaf in the foreground when photographing a subject farther away. It had to do with changing just the color without effecting the image underneath. Can’t find it in my notes. Can you help me out?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The technique you’re referring to involves painting in Photoshop using the Brush tool, using a color sampled from the image itself, onto a new image layer that is set to the Color blend mode.

More Detail: There are a variety of situations where you may want to correct the color in a photo without altering the texture or tonality. For example, if there is an object just in front of the lens when you are photographing a scene, you may end up with a color wash in part of the photo. This would cause only the color to be “contaminated”, with the underlying texture of the scene unaffected. There are, of course, other scenarios where you want to change the color of an area without affecting the tonality.

The first step is to create a new image layer for this purpose. So, make sure you have selected the top image layer on the Layers panel in Photoshop. That may very well be the Background image layer if you haven’t added any other image layers yet. Then click the “Create a New Layer” button at the bottom of the Layers panel. This is the button with a plus symbol inside a square, which used to be a blank sheet of paper icon in older versions of Photoshop.

After creating the new layer, you can double-click the name of the layer to rename the layer if you’d like. Then click the popup at the top-left of the Layers panel that shows the default value of “Normal”, and choose “Color” from the popup list.

Next, select the Brush tool. On the Options bar, click the brush settings popup (the third button from the left) and set the Hardness value to 0%. Hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh and click in an area of the photo that has a good color to replace the color contamination area. Then paint over the area where you want to fix the color. You may need to sample various colors for your correction, especially if the color contamination appears over a relatively large area that should have variations in color.

When painting with a color selected from the image, only the color will be altered in the areas you paint, because the blend mode is set to Color. In other words, the underlying texture will remain, but the color will be corrected.