Color Correction in One Click 

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I had the pleasure recently of photographing Jim Jackson’s fantastic Ice Cream Theatre performance at the Millibo Art Theater.

It’s a great show for kids and Jim’s performance involves some really funny clown stunts and ends with super-sized bubbles.

One thing about photographing a theater performance that makes it super easy is that theater lighting is almost always dramatic and precise. You can literally point your camera at the stage and as long as you have the correct shutter speed to capture that action, you’re good to go.

But because theater lighting is not daylight, there are certain challenges to photographing a performance that most people overlook.

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Our eyes are really good at correcting for color. Cameras? Not so much. Photographs from a theater performance often have a muddy look to them and there’s usually a serious color cast from the lights that, if you want to do it right, you should correct for.

Color correction, by the way, isn’t adding a filter to your photographs like what Instagram offers when you upload a photograph to your feed. Rather, color correction is meant to more accurately portray the scene you photographed.

Color correction for a theater performance is a great way to actually learn how to color correct your photographs in any lighting condition. If employed correctly, you will eliminate the muted or muddy look to the photographs and make it appear the way you remember it.

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I’ve included screen shots of images from the performance to show you the difference. In the first screenshot you can see the cast created by the lights and in the second screenshot, you can see how image looks without the cast.

I used the color picker tool in Adobe Camera Raw to select a portion of the image that should be 18% gray. In this case, the stage floor behind Jim.

With one click on that floor the rest of the colors in the image fall into place and the color cast is eliminated. That’s about as easy as it gets. I don’t have to fuss with sliders, tonal adjustments or any other fancy tools photoshop offers to fix these pictures.

If you have images taken under consistent lighting try this trick the next time you find yourself struggling to “fix an image in post.”

Happy shooting!

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.


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