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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
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Light & Color

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson in Light & Color, Part 1 0:46
    • What is Light?
    • Brightness & Color
    • Example of Exposure & Color
  • Lesson in Light & Color, Part 2 4:30
    • Transmitted & Reflected Light
    • Why is This Important in Photoshop?
  • Color Spaces 7:18
    • Visible
    • Prophoto
    • Adobe RGB & sRGB
    • CMYK
    • To Make This Simple
  • Setting Color Spaces 11:28
    • Setting Color Spaces
  • Lesson Summary 12:42

Transcription: Light & Color

Hi, everybody; Michael Brown here with you; welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop Elements Beginning and Intermediate course.0000

In this lesson, we're going to have a discussion about light and color and how they apply to what we're doing in Photoshop Elements.0008

In the last lesson, we talked about quality and how to set your camera up to take the best technical image we possibly can; what is your sensor actually taking an image of, or sensing?0018

Photons of light--not the scene, not the composition--it captures light.0030

The quality level of that light, the intensity of that light, is very important in the chain of best quality from start to finish.0035

Let's get started.0045

What is light? Technically, it is electromagnetic radiation that our eyes can interpret--the little rods and cones in your eyes--it's called vision.0047

The electromagnetic radiation are photons of light from the light source, and in our lives--outdoors, mostly that is the sun; indoors, it's various light sources.0057

We perceive light as a range of two things: brightness and color; that is why I said, in the last lesson, the four categories of Photoshop: corrections, exposure, and color--exposure is brightness; color is the other one.0068

Brightness is the intensity level of the light; more or less, brighter or darker; in the daytime, at noon, it's brighter than it is at sunset.0084

The color is the temperature of the light: higher temperatures are more bluish; lower temperatures are more reddish.0096

In the afternoon, you can see this as the light--the sun--goes toward sunset; it slants through the atmosphere more; there are more particles in the atmosphere; the photons bounce around, and you begin to get a more reddish tone.0103

You are also getting less light, because it's getting closer to the horizon.0119

So, the color changes of the light: noontime--it's very crisp; late afternoon--it's very warm.0123

A match or a candle is kind of an orange-yellow; lower color temperature; it can't melt metal, but it can sure boil water.0131

A welder's torch: very hot, very blue--melts metal; there is the difference in color temperatures.0141

A mantra for exposure and color: Exposure affects color; color does not affect exposure.0150

You want to make exposure changes first, get your exposure right, then adjust your color; if you do it the other way around, the exposure will alter the color.0158

Let me give you an example of that.0166

This is an image I took in Colorado, a nice fall scene in the mountains.0170

I'm going to show you how the color is affected by exposure.0175

Notice cyan sky over here, blue sky, nice blue lake, yellow aspen with a tinge of orange, a kind of warm color, and the grass is kind of orange-y.0179

As I increase the exposure, or make it brighter, watch the colors: notice, the colors of the grass are becoming less red; the aspen, also, are becoming less orange, more yellow; the sky is pure cyan over here, and the lake is adding cyan and becoming a lighter color.0192

Go back, and you will see the color difference.0214

The exposure is affecting the color; it will drop down, and the other way--the darker it gets, notice that the aspen is becoming very orange now; the grass is almost red; the lake has a purple tone to it; the sky is blue here, and almost blue-purple over on that side--a function of the exposure changes.0217

Now, how does color affect it? As we increase the saturation of color, the colors become much more rich, but you notice the exposure--even though it's way up there, the exposure doesn't change, just the color.0241

We desaturate; exposure doesn't change.0257

You want to do your exposure corrections first, and your color corrections second.0260

Moving on: we see light in one of two ways: transmitted light--this is light that is actually being projected at us; that is, monitors, television sets, computer screens, smartphones...beams of light are broadcast directly at your eyes.0271

A flame is broadcasting right at you; the lights that are lighting me here in the studio are broadcasting at me, but you are seeing reflected light.0290

In your monitor right now, you're seeing projected light because your monitor is projecting it, but the original light on me is being reflected into the lens.0300

Reflected light is absorbed by ink and paper, and the color you see is the remaining reflected wavelengths.0311

If you're looking at a stop sign, you're not seeing the actual color; you're seeing the reflected light, because the sun's light hits the stop sign, and it absorbs all the colors with the exception of the red that are transmitted back to you.0318

The same with printed paper; you're seeing the light from your light, or the sun, or whatever you're viewing the print under, absorbing everything but the colors that come back.0334

A totally different type of light; the transmitted light from your computer is additive; it's made up of red, green, and blue components; they combine to make the entire spectrum: white is all of the wavelengths; black is no light at all.0345

Turn off your computer; the screen goes black.0360

Reflected light is subtractive, and that is what I was just talking about--in printing, the inks are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.0364

These combine to create all colors: black is all of the colors on paper; white is no color--here is paper with no printing on it; it's white.0374

Once the ink gets on it, it will reflect the colors.0385

Why is this important in Photoshop Elements? Your photos are graphic output to primary sources: the Web, which works with the red, green, and blue projectors coming out at you, or in various print sources, which work with cyan/magenta/yellow colored ink.0388

It is vital to have your files in the correct color range or color space to ensure you get the best color output.0408

A quick demonstration: look, RGB has pure reds and greens and blues; over in cyan/magenta/yellow/black, there are no pure reds, greens, blues, so the color is going to be a little different for each of those sources, and you have to make sure it's right, working with your monitor.0415

What a range of color is: it's called a color space, a gamut.0437

There are five primary ones: the visible color range that we see with our eyes--and in this chart, that is the one that peeks out in the back--that's the wider one.0442

That is all that we can see--all of the color that our eyes see.0453

ProPhoto is the largest working color space that we can do on a computer.0457

It's used primarily for high-end pro work; it's used in 16-bit color mode; a gazillion colors--colors that you can't even see--as you see the triangle, the big triangle, sticks out--it has blues that you can't even see with your eye, and greens.0462

Why is this good? If you work in a larger color space, and you compress it to a visible color space or a usable color space, just like higher resolution giving you more detail, the more colors have more detail in them, and when you compress it, the final colors will be a little bit better.0476

We can't work in ProPhoto; I just wanted to show you that.0498

The two that we work in: Adobe RGB is available on all cameras, and of course in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements--this is our recommended color space to use most of the time; SRGB is the default color space for jpeg images in your camera, and most cameras, monitors, and for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.0501

Your cameras come default in SRGB, but you can set them at Adobe RGB, and let me define why.0527

This is the Adobe RGB color space, this middle triangle right here.0537

It falls within the visible spectrum, has less than the ProPhoto, but it has a good range of colors.0542

SRGB, the default for jpeg, the default for cameras, and the default for your monitors, is the smaller triangle.0550

Notice--greens, light blues--a lot less; also, a little bit in the yellow; so, it's a smaller color space, primarily greens and light blues.0556

If you're shooting with a camera, obviously you would want to set it at Adobe RGB to get more color.0570

The other reason is: the final color space is CMYK, which is the color space for printing with ink on paper, and you notice that is the oval.0577

Compared to either Adobe RGB or SRGB, it has much less blues and greens--a little more greens than the SRGB, but really falls in the blues; and, on both of these, Adobe and SRGB, in the reds.0589

So, if you're going to print, you don't want to be setting it up in SRGB, because there are less greens, and obviously, we have less yellow anyway, because cyan/magenta/yellow/black can reproduce yellow.0606

But, you lose a lot if you try to take SRGB and set it up for print.0622

Adobe RGB is the best space for setting up for print.0627

To make this simple, for consistency, and to give yourself plenty of color range, set your cameras to shoot Adobe RGB.0632

Another reason to shoot raw in your camera--because can't get Adobe RGB from it--only SRGB--you want that wider range and better quality.0641

In Elements, you have only two choices for color space: SRGB and RGB; I will show you: convert to profile--you have SRGB or RGB--the only two choices.0652

When optimizing for computer screens, which are SRGB, use SRGB; you're seeing just what you get.0665

When optimizing for print, use RGB, because that's a little bit wider color space than the CMYK, but you also have to be careful, because there is going to be a fall-off in the blues and greens when you print.0673

Now, setting your color spaces: when you first open a file, you can choose which one to assign, right from the beginning with the file, so that you will have the proper color space for your final output.0688

Go to Edit, Color Settings, right here, and up comes this box.0700

No color management leaves the incoming file just the way it is.0707

If you're working, for example, for computer screens, you want SRGB; but if you shoot your image in the camera in Adobe RGB, you can bring it in as SRGB once you bring it in; it's still--the original file--RGB, so you can go back to it if you want, if you're going to be working for print.0712

But, if you're working for the monitor, you can switch it automatically to SRGB.0733

If you're working for printing, use Adobe RGB; it's the larger color space.0738

Then, you have the option of choosing them: in other words, if you check this box when you open a raw file the first time, it will ask you which one you want.0742

When in doubt, use RGB, the larger color space.0751

To change a file from SRGB to RGB, go to Image, Convert profile, and you can do it right there.0755

There you have it: a little talk about light and the value of light, and how we need to make sure that the light is of the highest quality and correct light for either working on monitors or printed outputs.0763

In the next lesson, we will talk about how to calibrate your monitors for proper output and for other web devices.0779

That wraps up this lesson; I'll see you in the next lesson!0787