How to adjust the color with the help of 16-bit saturation masks

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There are thousands of techniques for customizing the color in Adobe Photoshop. Some are simpler, others more precise and some we never understand. Next, I’ll teach you a very simple method that lets you create a saturation mask to control the excess or lack of color in our photographs.

Color is one of the pillars of photography. It’s a problem nowadays. If we are the ones who still work with JPEG, we are more likely to overly saturate. When we do this in RAW, our images are often flat and unreadable. It may be difficult for us to know which colors we want to upload and which ones we want to hide.

For this reason, it is important to learn to create a saturation mask that specifies the colors that we need to change to balance the entire image. This time we’ve come up with an extremely simple technique, according to Jimmy McIntyre’s video, that lets us make a selection that we convert into a perfect mask of a hue / saturation adjustment layer.

The good news is that when we invest them we can achieve an equally effective desaturation layer with the least amount of effort. Without more we know all the steps.

How to make a 16-bit saturation mask

As I always say, the first thing is to reveal our photographs in Adobe Camera RAW or some other similar program to squeeze all its possibilities. Distribute all the information from the deepest black to the highest lights. Without this previous step our processing will be poorer.

How to adjust the color with the help of 16-bit saturation masks
  • We pass the photo as an intelligent object to Adobe Photoshop. Those who follow these articles know that I always say that it is a placeholder. And in this case it is true. It helps me to use a smart filter that I can remove when I no longer need it.
  • The color can be treated first, at the end of development or in the middle of the process. To simplify this writing, I will do it first. The example photograph is a perfect example to play with color. Autumn always lends itself to it.
  • Go to Filter> Other> HSB / HSL . This hidden filter allows you to change the color model of an image directly. In this case we are going to move from RGB to HSB . And what model is HSB ? Divide the information into three fundamental color characteristics: Hue, Saturation and Brightness . And obviously we are interested in having a Saturation only channel . So in the box we start from Input mode> RGB and as Row command> HSB . And we Ok .
  • Since we are working with an intelligent object, the filter will also be intelligent, which is an advantage, since we can get rid of it without consequences when we do not need it. Now we will be seeing a horrible photo, but what interests us is in the Channels window .
  • We have to select the Green channel (which is Saturation but they have not changed the name). And Ctrl + click on the channel thumbnail to load it as a selection. We will see the popular ant trail throughout the saturated areas of our photography.
  • But if we want it to be a 16 bit mask (I still do not see the utility but it is very good to say that we use them) we cancel the selection and do the following:
    1. We create a Hue / Saturation adjustment layer . You will have the blank mask mask. We mark it.
    2. Go to Image> Apply image and adjust the picture as we see below. This way we will achieve that the mask has all the information of a genuine 16 bits.
How to adjust the color with the help of 16-bit saturation masks
The settings of the Apply Image window

Now we can act as we are used to. Not before you throw the Smart Filter into the Trash by simply dragging it (this is the advantage of working this way). The mask has selected the most saturated tones of the image, and you can increase or decrease them by dragging the saturation parameter of our adjustment layer. Of course we can intervene in the mask to make it more or less selective by adjusting the levels (Image> Settings> Layers).

How to adjust the color with the help of 16-bit saturation masks
The final photograph

The most interesting thing is that if we invert the mask (we just have to select it and go to Image> Adjustments> Invert ) we will have selected the less saturated colors of the photograph. And again the freedom to choose what we do with them in a new adjustment layer.

It is a very interesting method that will surely help us to improve the color of our photographs. It only remains that you apply it to your shots and tell us what you think of what you can do now.

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