Written by T. Michael Testi
Based on the device-independent CIE specification from 1976, Lab color is often thought of as a high tech, labor-intensive color space. In many cases, Lab color performs certain types of color modifications more quickly and with better, more effective results than RGB. In Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color, Deke McClelland explores how to use Lab color "to make bad photographs great and great photographs even better." He demonstrates image manipulations that are best suited to Lab, and walks through a typical, non-destructive Lab correction. Deke also shows how to correct lighting, apply selective color modifications, and reverse the effects of color cast.
Your trainer for this library is Deke McClelland. In 1985, Deke McClelland oversaw the implementation of the first personal computer-based production department in Boulder, Colorado. Deke McClelland is a well-known expert and lecturer on Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and the broader realm of computer graphics and design. To date, he has written 85 books that have been translated into 24 languages, with more than four million copies in print. This library is divided into five lessons and runs six and a half hours.
Lesson 1, "What Lab Color Is" begins with defining what Lab color is. Designed decades ago, Lab color has been available in Adobe Photoshop for over 10 years. Unlike the RGB and CMYK color spaces, Lab color is an optional color space but is often overlooked or considered too difficult to use but can save time and can make your images look better.
Here you will learn not to fear the Lab mode, you will learn why color is 3D, how to mix Lab colors, as well as other explanations of what Lab Color is. You will learn about the hue/saturation color wheel, the Lab color wheel, the different channels between the three color spaces, and how channels blend in Lab mode.
Lesson 2, "What Lab Color Can Do", at least according to McClelland, is "blow your mind." It will have a profound effect on your images, it will surprise you with its power, and it will just simply amaze you. This is where you will see how bad becomes great, and great becomes better. You will see how to favor yellow to balance skin tones, drop out the blues, correct a very bad image in Lab, sharpen luminance independent of color, and sharpen for effect and blur away noise.
Lesson 3, "A Typical, Nondestructive Lab Correction" now focuses on more realistic problems — not making the bad great or the great better, but rather how to make the okay or average image much better. You know those images where the colors are drab, the contrast is lackluster, or other problems where the image does not live up to what you saw when you pressed the shutter release. Here you will see a more typical scenario in which you convert an image to Lab and apply adjustment layers, turn the image into a smart object and sharpen it and turn that into an RGB image to resolve the chromatic aberrations — all without harming a pixel.
Lesson 4, "Correcting Color Cast and Lighting" examines images with bigger issues; color casts, blown highlights, and other lighting problems. Here you will learn how to identify a color cast, how to adjust for it, how to brighten shadows, how to dim highlights, and how to bring out all the details that your image has to offer.
Lesson 5, "Selective Color Modifications" is more selective than corrective. This is helpful when you want to use an image and selectively change the color of, say, a shirt and produce different color versions. You begin by changing the color of a car without any masking and then move on to changing a shirt and tie color using a mask created by a Lab/RGB cross-pollination technique.
Once again Deke McCelland's conversational style and wit makes this a very easy to understand topic for such a complex one, and it is extremely entertaining as well. While there are a lot of camps on whether one should use the Lab color space or not, I think that if you are serious about bringing out the best in color in your images, then you owe yourself this opportunity to learn and really understand it. It is for that reason that I very highly recommend this video.
You can get Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color two ways. One is as a DVD training package Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color and the other is part of the online training experience at Lynda.com. The DVD Training Package is $99.95 USD and contains everything you need.
The online training Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color comes in three flavors. A monthly subscription at $25 USD gets you all of the videos that are available online (approximately 30,768 videos on 458 topics at this time) or you can save a little with an annual subscription at $250 USD. A premium subscription at $375 USD per year gets all the videos as well as all of the exercise files. Take note that the exercise files are not included with the monthly or annual subscriptions. They are included only on the DVD and premium subscriptions.
You can use Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color as a training program for the individual student, and it's also good for the college or vocational teacher looking to supplement their educational materials. It is of benefit to anyone who needs help understanding the Lab color space. You can also try out some lessons for free at Lynda.com.