With the changing of the leaves fast approaching most of the States, we’ve been doing a few posts on how to capture the beautiful colors of the trees and leaves around your area.  Regretfully, sometimes you  just can’t get that amazing color you see  in front of you captured on your digital camera.  In the film days, a solution to this was to grab  some Fuji Velvia slide film.  Velvia was amazing; it took plain, drab scenes and supercharged the colors to make them vibrant and give them “pop”.  We can simulate that effect in Photoshop easily – so let ‘s get started!  (note – just like with Velvia, this effect works best on scenics / fall foliage / stuff – not really people.)

If you want to try it with the same picture I used you can download it here.

Open your image in Photoshop.  Go to Windows – Channels so your Channel’s  palette is showing.  It should show  that we are in the RGB mode and you’ll see the  separate R, G, B channel layers.


(click any picture to enlarge)

We’ll be doing our editing in a different mode –  LAB Mode.  LAB is a different way to describe the color of a pixel.  Instead is assigning a Red, Green, and Blue number it splits the color into Luminance (how light or dark) and A and B color values (Don’t worry what the A and B stand for).  The benefit of editing in LAB mode versus RGB is LAB treats the brightness of a pixel separate from the hue / color of a pixel.  I can change the L number to lighten or darken a color without changing the “color” of the color.

So go to Image – Mode- Lab Color.  You see while the color of your image didn’t change,  the Channels palette has now switched to show the separate Brightness (L), A, and B channels instead of R,G and B.


Now click on the A layer in the channel palette. You see it shows a ghostly, B&W depiction or the color.  We are going to adjust the Levels of this A channel and the B channel to get our Velvia look.


But we want to see the effect the changes have so click the eyeball next to the LAB channel layer – your entire picture will show AND the A Channel layer will still be highlighted.


Now to the adjustments.  It will require a little math – but only about 3rd grade level!  Hit Ctrl – L or go to Image – Adjustments – Levels.  You’ll see an adjustment box similar to this one.  We are going to move the right and left arrow heads the same amount while looking at the changes to our picture.  So I first moved my right arrow head towards the left and saw the reds and yellow get a lot more saturated (and weird looking).  It looked right at about 205.  So I move from 255 to 205 = 50 points.  I now move the left arrow head to the right the same amount – 50 points – and the color came more back to normal but brightened up .


The amount you move it isn’t really important – it’s just important to move the right and left arrow heads the same amount or the color will be wrong.  Now we need to do the same to the B Channel.  Simply click on the B Channel layer, hit Ctrl – L to bring up the Levels dialog box, and move your right arrow heads left the same as you did for the A Channel layer.

Now the last step is to convert back to RGB color, as LAB color is used only with programs – printers, labs ,etc are all expecting the picture to be in RGB.  Just go to Image – Mode – and select RGB Color.


And there you  have it!  Quick, easy and it gives you great results.  What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know if you’ll use this or find it useful.

Stan White at Scrappers Workshop

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About the author

Stan brings to the site a long career in the photo industry from working as a professional photographer to 13 years with Kodak to his present position asDirector or Marketing with Advanced Photographic Solutions color lab.Having spent all his adult life in the photo industry, Stan discovered the wild world of digiscrap through wife Jenn (better known as ScrapKitty Design). Even 12 years of teaching Photoshop and digital imaging to photographers didn't prepare him for the wild and wooly world of digi-crops, so he sticks to teaching classes and writing about photography and PS/PSE on their blog www.scrappersworkshop.com/blog. Stan and Jenn are transplanted Yankees in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and would not live in lake effect snow again if you paid them.


  1. Thanks so much for that tip! We’re still waiting for our fall colors here in TX..but this goes right to the top of the pile when it’s time to edit!

  2. Julie says:

    Holy cow, that’s so much fun! I was bemoaning my inability to capture the color just yesterday so this is so timely, thanks!

  3. […] Improve Your Fall Foliage Pictures from Scrappers’ Workshop […]

  4. Kay says:

    Is there any way to do this with Elements?

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