I used to have a lot of trouble making the colors in a picture look natural when adjusting the levels. When you gradually adjust the levels, you don’t always realize how much editing you’ve done, which can result in harsh or fake-looking coloring in some parts of the picture. Here are some tips to make sure that doesn’t happen to you:
1. Look at the natural picture every once in a while.
This, below, is the natural picture.
I could definitely make the blues and greens a little brighter… But I need to make sure it doesn’t appear artificial.
In this picture above, I brightened the color, but I raised the contrast level so much that the lighting no longer looks natural. The background behind the branches that are in focus is much too dark. This can happen with brightening the color too much as well. By looking at the natural picture, you can assure that you don’t go too far with adjusting the levels of lighting, color, saturation, contrast, etc.
2. Zoom into sections of the picture.
If we look at the second example given above and zoom into the upper left side of the picture, we can see that the shadows are too dark. I often tend to focus on the main part and/or the center of the picture to see if the color is improved there. The branches that are in focus look alright, but as we can see in the natural picture, the branches in the back sort of fade out and are still just slightly visible almost throughout the entire picture. In the second picture, it is completely black in much of the background. This makes the picture look unnatural. Zooming in to sections of the picture can help you to avoid this error.
Hope you can learn from my mistakes! 🙂