Printing out a great photo is always exciting. Some of us are even daft enough to sit by the printer and watch the image build up, line by line. Of course, it's not so much fun when the image coming out doesn't match what you think you saw on your Mac's screen.
At this point, Photoshop veterans will mutter into their beards and tell you that you ought to calibrate your monitor. But images can still come out wrong, because our eyes play tricks on us. The human eye adapts to colours quickly and auto white balances a scene for what it expects to see. Sadly, Photoshop isn't so smart.
To help you get your pictures spot-on colour-wise, there's a Photoshop plug-in called EditLab Pro. This ingenious piece of software can adjust the colour and brightness parameters of an image with uncanny accuracy.
It works by opening an image from the Photoshop Filter menu and asking you to click on a colour in the image that you know to be neutral. It could be a grey card, or it could be white shirt. If you can't find something of a neutral hue you can click on the SmartColor button and the software will do it for you.
The next stage in the fourstep process is clicking on the darkest and lightest areas. If you're worried you can click on the SmartColor button and have it done for you. The third stage sets the contrast and global brightness, and you can override or reset the settings at any point.
The final stage is clicking on the colour you want to balance. For example, click on skin tones, foliage or blue sky and then click on the corresponding button and the colour snaps into place. You can tweak it manually, but nine times out of ten the app will have done the job perfectly. Mark Sparrow