Add brightness using LAB color mode in Photoshop

The LAB color space is a rarely used Photoshop feature, although it has been added to the program long ago and is ideal for improving the color palette of a photo.

The RGB mode allows us to work with the red, blue and green channels separately. CMYK mode – blue, purple, yellow and black. And LAB has Lightness (Brightness), A and B.

Channel L is responsible for the brightness of the image and is configured separately from the colors. Channel A contains information about green and purple, and B contains blue and yellow.

This separation of brightness from color allows you to quickly perform color correction of a photo, which in other color modes can be quite a laborious process with a less accurate result.

In this tutorial, we will work with a photo of a burlesque-artist Missy Fatale and increase the brightness of the picture, in particular, the hair, the snake and the surrounding greenery.

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Step 1. Open the photo

Open the desired photo and copy it to a separate document. Image – Duplicate (Image – Duplicate). In the window that opens, call the duplicate “LAB” and click OK.

Step 2. We work on a copy

Then we continue to work on a copy of the document. Make sure that the LAB color mode is selected for it. To do this, go Image – Mode – Lab Color (Image – Mode – Lab).

If you open the panel Window – Channels (Window – Channels), instead of channels Red (Red), Green (Green) and Blue (Blue) you will see Lightness (Brightness), A and B.

Step 3. Add an adjustment layer

Add a new adjustment layer Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves), which appears on the channel panel as a mask. The panel will also open. Properties (Properties) with its settings.

Step 4. We work with the Properties panel

On the panel Properties (Properties) click on the word Lightness (Brightness) and choose A, which is responsible for the purple and green shades of the image.

Move the curve to visually see the adjustment layer in action. At the bottom of the panel, select the left black slider and move it to the right to -60, and white to +60. In this case, both sliders will move approximately one mesh cell, and the vegetation and purple hues on Missy’s hair will become brighter. Keep in mind that the settings depend on the photo.

We return to the panel Properties (Properties) and in the top drop-down menu, change A to B. This channel is responsible for the blue and yellow shades. Move the curve again to see the result.

I repeated the steps from step 5, but this time I selected the snake and removed the bluish tones on the green. I set the black slider to -60, and the white to +60.

Step 5. Merge layers

We return to the panel Layers (Layers) and merge all layers into one using the menu command Layer – Merge Visible (Layer – Merge visible).

Step 6. Change the color mode

Next we need to change the color mode back to RGB. To do this, go Image – Mode – RGB (Image – Mode – RGB). As a result, there should be no change in colors.

Now using the tool Move Tool (V) (Move) drag the merged layer from the copy of the LAB document onto the original and place it above the layer Background (Background).

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