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Photoshop – LAB Mode Maximum Color Saturation

Level: Easy

I want to share with you this awesome technique taught by Deke McClelland in his Adobe PhotoShop – Mastering LAB Color DVD disc that I loaned from the library recently.  This tutorial is about maximum saturation without clipping and using the contrast slider in LAB mode.

Adjusting your image using Photoshop’s Brightness/Contrast slider has been considered the worse adjustment tool you can ever use when working in RGB mode as these controls affect the whole tonal range of the image. For example, if your image only requires the shadow part to be lightened up, adjusting the brightness level up would affec the whole image, causing the midtones and highlights to be overexposed. Using adjustment tools such as Levels and Curves can isolate the specific tonal areas without affecting the other, hence the Brightness/Contrast controls are rarely used.

However, when used in LAB color mode, adjusting brightness and contrast become powerful tools for adding contrast and brightness of the COLORS only, without affecting the luminosity of the image or clipping colors.

This is a photo that my 5 year-old son took this morning, I think it’s a pretty nifty photo from a kindergarden kid. :D I’ll show you how to turn this:


Into this:


By the way, this is my first on-screen video and I don’t have a voice-over for it, but hopefully it’s clear enough to follow. Again, credits go to Mr. McClelland for this technique.

Photoshop – Maximum Saturation in LAB Mode from David Tong on Vimeo.

To summarize the steps, it’s basically:

1) Switch to LAB mode.

2) Select the Channels Palette and select channel “a”.

3) Open the Brightness/Contrast adjustment tool and max out the Contrast to 100.

4) Select channel “b” and repeat step 3.

5) You’re done. Sharpen as necessary.

Notice how the histogram doesn’t have gaps (lost data) and color clips as well. There you have it, maximum saturation in LAB mode in less than a minute. Hope you liked the short tutorial.

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