Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recoloring an item in Camera Raw (5.5)

Recoloring an image? What is this goof talking about? See the blue bubble below, it's on a blue lake and well, everything in the photo is a shade of blue. Contrasting color is usually a good thing in any photo and this one just seems to monochromatic. So, let's change the blue bubble and make it red and do it all in Camera Raw.

The first thing I'm going to do is make the blue photo at least look a little more presentable. This was taken with a 70-300mm lens from about 15 feet away at ISO 800, so yes, it's a bit flat. I'm going to increase the blacks some and then go to the tone curve panel and make an adjustment there.

*Tip - I know there's a slider in this panel that says Contrast but it's really lame. You can slide that sucker back and forth all day long and you won't effect the contrast much, so trust me, skip it and leave it at whatever level your camera defualts too. Use the Black slider and the Tone Curve Panel to adjust your contrast.

Ok, so in the Tone Curve Panel, select Point and then select either Medium or Strong Contrast to start with. I chose Strong Contrast and then made a few tweeks from there.

**This works a lot like the Curves Adjustment Layer does in Photoshop, so if you're familar with that, you'll have no trouble at all with this version.

Ok, we're ready to start looking at how we are going to attack making this blue bubble, red. The first step is to click on the adjustment brush on the top panel. The next step is to ZERO out all the sliders by double clicking on each one, this will give us a fresh brush to work with.

Alright, so we are in the adjustment brush panel and our values for the brush are all at ZERO. Now go to the adjustment under Sharpeness, it's labeled Color, you'll notice mine is already red. Yours is probably white with an X through it, that means no color has be selected for the brush. Go ahead and click on the box and select a color. Again, I chose red and I set the saturation slider in the popup to 100% for painting the bubble, I'll set it at a lower value for painting in the reflection but we'll cover the reason why later.

Now we're ready to paint. So go ahead and paint in the area that you want to change the color of, don't worry if you over painted an area, it's an easy fix. Just hold the ALT Key (PC) or CMD Key (MAC) down and paint on the area you want to remove the new color from.

Tip: The bracket keys [ and ] control the size of the brush just like they do in CS3 or 4. So adjust the brush to get into tight areas.

Alright, so the image below looks pretty good as far as the bubble goes, our next step will be to work on the reflection of the bubble.

So, when we were painting in the bubble and we wanted the red to be a touch darker, we adjust the saturation to a negative number, this reduced the original color of the area that we painted in thus making the red color were using a tad richer. For the reflection we want to lessen the red color a touch since it's a reflection. So that means you will need to make the saturation a positive number, I chose +10.

Tip : The saturation slider on the adjustment brush is a good way to help you zone in the correct color you want to use when trying to change the color of an object in Camera Raw. Remember, you can adjust it after you have finished painting in the area. This is another big advantage over using CS3 or 4 for this type of work.

We're pretty much done now, the only other changes I made were to the over all image in the basic adjustment window. I added a little more black and reduced the exposure a tad.

If you have any questions on what we went over here, please don't hesitate to either ask here in the blog or email me at . I hope you enjoyed the tutorial , next week I'll be discussing some of my photography work. If you would like to see my portfolio, you can find it at under the gallery tab.

Thanks for visiting,


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My name is Michael White and I'm a Fine Art Photographer based out of the Tampa Bay area.   I enjoy photographing various landscapes and wild life that can be found in the US.  I am also the creator of a new process called High Key HDR. 
You can find my website at and I can also be followed on Twitter at @rorymadstudios .