View Full Version : How can I easily colour balance for good skin tones?

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 04:43

I use Photoshop Elements and Apple Aperture to post produce my wedding photos on my Madc, but I am after some advice which could help save me a lot of time....

Does anyone know if a quick and easy way of achieving a pleasant skin tone hue at the press of a button? Obviously I white balance in post and tweak the various colour controls in order to get a nice look, but is there anything out there that lets you click on an area of skin tone and then it automatically adjusts it to the correct hue?

Basically something that behaves like a white balance eyedropper but instead of turning an area into a neutral tone, it instead alters it to become the correct hue for skin.

When I work in video editing there is a graticule on the vectorscope that corresponds with the colour of skin which is 24 degrees, but I have not seen anything like this in photographic post production....

Thanks for your help - Geoff

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 04:57
Geoff, one of the things is, in each photo, the white balance will be slightly different to the previous so to automate this totally might be an issue or counter productive.

Lightroom has a custom WB selection but this is not always going to be effective since it evaluates the whole picture and process accordingly.

Others may have a bit more input on this which I might find useful so will keep an eye.

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 08:47
I'll work on it. Ought to be worth a fortune.
Trouble is that everyone's taste is different.
Is your monitor calibrated?

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 09:22
Shoot a gray card for each lighting situation -

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 09:34
Basically something that behaves like a white balance eyedropper but instead of turning an area into a neutral tone, it instead alters it to become the correct hue for skin.

I think Paint Shop Pro has something like that, but I'm not sure how well it works.

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 13:47
I shoot a lot of weddings and use C1 Pro to manage skin tones. (CS3 for everything else).

I dont know your shooting style, but my trick is this: I tend to shoot several images of relatively the same "instance" - basically, I get several shots that all look relatively similar. I then set the skin tone for the first instance, then select all similar instances and use the "Apply to All" apply that color tone to all of the following images.

I may have to do this 20 or 30 times per wedding, but it doesnt take very much time at all. In a wedding with several thousand images, I bet I spend less than 30 minutes setting skin tones.

Also, how are you managing white balance when you shoot? You can save yourself a LOT of time by simply establishing that correctly as you shoot. I see you are using the 5D, so just setting it on Auto WB should get you almost perfect.

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 13:51
What I do is shoot RAW & set my in-camera white balance to something constant like 5200K. That will mean whether a picture is right or wrong, all images in the same light are off by the same amount and I can batch my corrections and have consistency across the board.

12th of August 2008 (Tue), 14:42
Shoot a gray card for each lighting situation -

I was thinking the same thing. Then use the lift and stamp tool in Aperture to apply them very quickly to similar lighting conditions.

13th of August 2008 (Wed), 04:50
Thanks for the comments and advice folks. I do already use Aperture's 'stamp' function to apply filters to a batch of similar images, and I tend to shoot in auto white balance. I'll try fixing the WB as suggested and see how I get on. I have also been recommended Portraiture from Imagenomic, which should soon be available as an Aperture plug-in. I'll try to hunt it down...

Whatever happens, it sounds like next year's wedding PP should be a lot less time-consuming.

Thanks again - Geoff

John E
15th of August 2008 (Fri), 07:24
Check Photoshop Elements itself. I have the latest version (version 5 I believe) and it has a skin color tool as well as a white balance tool. It works great! Also there is and excellent Photoshop and Elements plug-in called "Picto-Color Portrait." I think this is the best skin color correction plug-in I've ever used.