In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the power of Lab color to effectively extended the colour range in your photographs. It can transform dull or dark photos by adding more colour and it is a quick and easy process to follow. If you want to know more about Lab color you can read more about the Lab color mode and what it is used for here.
Open up the image you want to alter. I have chosen to use this photo of Italy. You can download the image here if you wish to use the same one.
Change the colour mode to Lab color by going to Image > Mode > Lab color.
Add a curves adjustment layer to your photograph. Select the photograph layer in the Layers palette and click on the black and white circle icon at the bottom of the palette. From the menu choose curves.
A properties panel will now be showing the curves information for the photograph.
Click the burger menu top right on the panel and choose ‘Curves display options’.
You will see 2 grid options, if you choose the one on the right this will show you the histograms on a grid of 10 by 10 and it will be easier to see the approx area in which to move the sliders to. Change & click OK.
You will see a drop down at the top of the panel showing the different colour channels. With a Lab color document, the default will be set to ‘Lightness’ Change this to ‘a’ to edit the green to red colours.
Channel ‘a’ will look something like the below.
If you think of all the different possible colours available from green to red you will see the photo is only using a small percentage of this in the middle. The grid the histogram is sitting on is 10 bars across so if you think of this as 0 to 100 you need to slide the left arrow to position 20 and the right arrow to position 80. You are effectively stretching the colour bar out and so this injects more colour into your photo.
Choose Channel ‘b’ from the same drop down menu and repeat the same process for the colours ranging blue to yellow.
Your image will now have enhanced colour! See the final image below.
The comparison between the original and the new adjusted colours is shown below
I have tried this process across many photos and you can truly say that it makes the colours POP! Try this on dark or misty photos for great effects.