An Imperfect Match

The subject of this tutorial is the photoshop function ‘Match Colour’. It has many uses and the one I’ll describe in this post can potentially save time when processing different versions of very similar looking images. I find I use this technique to process wedding photographs when they are part of a sequence  shot in rapid succession with the same framing. Alternatively, when shooting seascapes, I’ll often take multiple shots of the same exposure and composition but with varying degrees of wave movement. ‘Match Colour’ helps to keep the colour of images as close to each other as possible if (and its a big if) you then continue with the rest of your workflow to fine tune its initial results.

The following example is based on 2 images I took with similar composition at Port Willunga Jetty. I chose this example to show what the function can and can’t do. The images look similar but not identical in colour. However, the corrections I needed to make after using ‘Match Colour’ initially were less intense and arduous than if I had started from scratch.

Original image on right, 'Matched' image on left

The image on the right was the image that I processed first as the better of the two compositions though I’m not entirely happy with it since the image was taken from the water at night with a significant tilt which needed to be corrected in post processing. The image on the left was a  quick post processed version following the use of ‘Match Colour’ as a first step. The image below is how it looked straight from lightroom :

Lightroom export : adjustments for clarity and contrast were made

These are the following steps in CS5 I took in order to fast track post processing:

1. Open both the new file you have chosen to edit, and the original file you have already edited.

2. Duplicate the background layer of the new file (so that you can mask in or out any of the effects ‘Match Colour’ will produce)

3. Select the entire image in both files separately (Ctrl-A) and return to the file you are working on.

4. Go to Image>Adjustments>Match Colour as below

4. In the bottom dropdown menu, select the source as the edited reference image

5. Click OK and the observe the result.

In this example, the colours achieved were closer but not quite what was achieved with the original edit. I suspect that part of the reason is that the composition was not identical which highlights a limitation of this tool (for this purpose anyway). Like many tools available in photoshop, it shouldn’t replace fundamentals of post processing but when used for the appropriate reasons and images, it can be a potential time saver! I hope you find a use for this function or if not, or at the very least you now know a little about what this function can do.



Posted on February 28, 2012, in How we..., Photography, South Australia and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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