In the olden days of film, darkrooms and hand-printing the steps to producing a colour print from a negative were as follows:

  • Determine correct exposure time using a test-strip.

  • Remove any colour cast using the Yellow and Magenta filters on the enlarger with the aid of a test-strip (Cyan filters are very rarely used).

  • Tweak the above settings on a full-size print.


The digital revolution now means that processing is carried out on a computer using Photoshop or similar image manipulation software. My workflow is as follows:

  • Create separate Curves and Levels adjustment layers and use these to re-define the White Point (highlights) and Black Point (shadows) as well as to correct colour cast, brightness and contrast.

  • Create a separate saturation adjustment layer to alter saturation if required.

  • Flatten the layers.

  • Remove dirt spots.

  • Straighten/resize/crop the image.

  • Sharpen.

You will notice that I use separate adjustment layers. Why? Quite simply because they provide much more flexibility by allowing me to tweak each layer independently as each new adjustment is made. For example, after adjusting the Levels and correcting the colour cast and contrast using Curves I might find that my image is still a little too dark. All I have to do is re-select the Levels layer and adjust the mid-tone/gamma value.





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© Sťan Wilson 2005 - 2006