If you’re not that confident with your masking skills, there’s a perfect technique to create a color range-targeted adjustment in Photoshop’s Camera Raw!
You can download the tutorial image here to follow along with the tutorial!
Convert the Layer into a Smart Object
Start by right-clicking on the image layer and selecting Convert to Smart Object. By doing so, you will be able to apply adjustments, distortions, filters, or transformations while keeping it editable.
Apply a Local Adjustment in the Camera Raw filter
Choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
In Camera Raw Filter, you’ll be able to take full control of color and tonal adjustments in an image.
Also, you can apply selective adjustments using the Adjustment Brush. Simply use the tool to paint over areas you want to apply adjustments.
With the Adjustment Brush selected, check the box for Mask Options so a white overlay will mark the areas that will be affected. Then, start painting on the parachute and its reflection.
Select the Eraser tool by clicking on the eraser icon and use it to paint on areas you want to subtract from the selection. But it will be tricky for photos like this where the water interrupts the parachute reflection.
Disable the Mask Options to have a clear view of the objects that will change in color.
Then, scroll down along the sliders until you find the Hue output slider and select any color.
Since the Adjustment Brush also selected the water, it changes color too.
Create a “Mask” with the Color Range Mask
Scroll down to the bottom of the slider and set the Range Mask to Color.
Use the Sample Color eyedropper tool to select the color you want to mask. For this image, click on the parachute’s dominant yellow color.
Right away, you may notice that the surrounding water that previously changed color has now returned to its original color.
Hold Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) as you click on the Color Range slider to set the range. Since it’s a mask, the principle, “white reveals, black conceals,” applies here. That means the color change will only affect the white areas and will not show in black areas.
By dragging the Color Range slider to the left, you subtract pixels from the mask, where sliding it to the right adds pixels to the mask. Find the perfect range where you get as close as possible the pixels from which you are sampling.
Select the Sample Color eyedropper tool again. Then, add the parachute’s yellow shadows by clicking on it, and you will see two eyedroppers, indicating two sampled colors.
Understanding the Color Range Mask Sample Points
Hold the Shift key as you click-and-drag to create a selection of a wide range of pixels in an area where it captures the lightest to the darkest color in the parachute color.
Then, keep on doing this to other areas to further widen the range of color you can adjust with the Camera Raw.
Note: You can only create up to five (5) sample points, so make it count!
From here, you can use the Hue slider or the other sliders in the Properties panel to change the parachute color.
Add to the current Targeted Adjustment
Zooming into the parachute’s water reflection, you may notice how there’s an area unaffected by the color change. You can include it in the mask by selecting the Adjustment Brush and painting over it.
Camera Raw will take note of the sampled colors, so it will not include the surrounding water in the mask as well.
When you’re done adjusting and setting the new color for the object, press OK to apply the changes, and you’ll be taken back to the document workspace once again.
Edit the Camera Raw Adjustment
If you want to come back and edit the Camera Raw adjustments, just double-click on the Camera Raw Filter label under the Smart Object to take you back to the Camera Raw workspace.
See? Camera Raw has more in store for you than you imagined. If you also want to learn how to adjust video colors using Camera Raw, click here!