Advanced (Sort Of) Concert Photo Editing

It’s been a while since I’ve a tutorial of any sort, so I thought I’d expand on my one-minute edit and do something a little more advanced. For this, the screenshots you will see are from Adobe CameraRaw and Photoshop CS4 because that was what I had open, generally I would probably do most of this in Lightroom with a splash of CS4 – however, this tutorial does also work for LR, the tools are just in a slightly different format in LR.

This tutorial really focuses on some tools to recover detail and fix color washes. The other night, I was shooting a show that had intense color washes of every color – green, blue, magenta, red, etc. It was hard to meter for, but worse than that, the photos were just flat since everything was a monotone of the current wash color.

I started off with this:


First thing I did was adjust white balance, exposure, recover some highlights with the recovery slider, fill lights, clarity, etc.  These are standard edits that I do to all my photos.

I also turned down the vibrance a bit, so that the color wasn’t so overpowering.  I return it just about to the standard amount at the end of the edit since I like nice, colorful pictures, but I find turning it down at this step gives me a better slate to work with:


I then went to the HSL tab, where I adjusted the hue of the magenta color – bumping it all the way to the right to add a bit more yellow:


Then I adjusted the saturation of the magenta, turning it down a bit, since it was so saturated and overpowering:


And to get some detail in the face and skin, I increased the luminance of the magenta:


This is kind of the trick… I went to the split tone tab and adjusted the highlight and shadow tones until the colors seemed more natural in the image:


And, like I said, I went back and turned up the vibrance now that I had made the rest of my adjustments:


As one last small step, this one done in Photoshop  – I took out a bit of the red, because I thought the image was still a little too warm:


This is my final version, after slight cropping and a bit of sharpening… tada!:


Compare it to the “before”:


While the color is still not what you’d get from an arena light show, there is only so much you can do with certain types of light.  I feel that after the edits, I got a usable photo that has a bit of dimension and detail to it! The whole edit took me under five minutes.

Do you have a trick that you use to combat washes? Please share!

9 thoughts on “Advanced (Sort Of) Concert Photo Editing

    1. Thanks all, I’m glad that it’s useful!

      Clayton – I just recently started with the split toning myself, and on some pictures, it really does make a difference.

      Sam – It’s been a while since I’ve used any other version, but I would imagine that most of it would work with other versions of PS/CameraRAW. I know a few things (such as the clarity slider) are new to CS4, but I think the majority of the more important functions can be found in earlier versions.

  1. I’m a PSP7 user (yeah, seriously) and can never evarrrr get my color washes out. Wish I could figure out how to translate to my photo program (and, no, I don’t really wanna switch to PS because it runs so heavy and it’s far too complicated for me)

    1. Jenn – I am no help. I haven’t used PSP since college. But, if you figure out how to make it work in PSP, let me know… I’m sure other people would be interested in it.

  2. That’s ridiculous! I have never seen someone take a single color wash and get good skin tones out of it! You got his skin back AND kept a nice background… I seriously thought you someone painted over his skin to add a natural peach tone back in. How amazing it you can do this so quickly. I usually just say, “Screw it, not much to do about that” and turn down the vibrance. How awesome.

    Also, +1 for Lightroom. Don’t think you use it, but it’s always worked for me and has HSL all in 1 row 🙂

    1. Thanks! So much of what I shoot has a wash, so I had to come up with a way to fix it otherwise most of my shots would be black and white. Like I said in the post, it doesn’t always work… some washes are just too intense, but it works often.

      I use Lightroom. Actually, Lightroom is what I use the most 🙂

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