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How Color Correcting your Product Photos Can Significantly Reduce Your eCommerce Return Rates

color correcting product photos

The competition within the eCommerce industry has reached unprecedented levels! Even with impressive sales figures, swift returns can swiftly erode your profits. Interestingly, a significant factor contributing to product returns is the inaccurate depiction of colour.

If your product photos don’t accurately represent the true color of your product, customers are likely to be disappointed when they receive their purchase. And if they’re not happy with the color, they’re much more likely to return the product.

According to EJM, nearly 11% of customers would return merchandise because the colors were not accurate. This means that if your product photos are off by even a little bit, it could be costing you a significant amount of money in returns.

The return rate is one of the most important metrics for eCommerce businesses. And while there are a number of factors that can contribute to high return rates, color is one of the easiest to fix. By color correcting your product photos, you can help reduce your return rate and improve your bottom line.

Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy way to avoid this problem: color correcting your product photos. This simply means adjusting the colors in your photos so that they more accurately reflect the true colors of your products.

In this guide, we will discuss the process of color correction and how our expert eCommerce photo editing team can help you achieve accurate colors in your product photos.

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What is Color Correction in Image Processing?

Even the best product photos need a little editing as it’s very difficult to perfectly capture the colors of an object in a photo. The colors in your photos can be impacted by a number of disparate factors, such as light sources and camera settings. Using image editing techniques like color correcting, you can adjust the colors in your photos to more accurately represent the true colors of your products.

Color correction is a process of adjusting the colors in an image to more accurately reflect the true colors of an object. This can be accomplished using a variety of editing methods, such as color balance, white balance, and hue/saturation adjustments.

It starts with an evaluation of the colors in your photo. Once the problem areas have been identified, our photo editors will make the necessary adjustments to achieve accurate colors.

There are a number of different color models that can be used for color correction, but the most common is the CMYK model. This model is based on four primary colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. By adjusting the levels of these colors, our editors can achieve a wide range of different hues and shades.

Why is Color Correction Important?

According to EJM research, 58% of consumers would not make future purchases if they saw color discrepancies. Since majority of customers already don’t trust the accuracy of product images online, eCommerce stores have no room for error.

This is where color correction steps in to play an important role. As much as possible, you want your product images to look as close as they could to how a human eye would see them in real life.

Much like how a customer would do in an in-store setting, potential customers base their decision on whether to click “add-to-cart” or not by critically looking at your product images. This is why zoom features are added to most marketplaces and eCommerce platforms. You want to give your potential customers as much leeway to inspect your product without them having to leave the comfort of their homes.

Aside from putting your best foot forward, color-correcting your product images is also a form of customer service. You are essentially setting the right expectation for what they should be receiving once they make a purchase on your site.

If colors in those photos are off, it would immediately turn them off and you’ve just lost a customer (and a sale). Aside from affecting your conversion rates, color inaccuracies can also result in increased return rates as customers are likely to return products that don’t match the photos.

More often than not, it’s emotions that sell, and drive customers to make decisions. Color has a powerful impact on our emotions, actions, and even our bodies. Color influences 60% of our purchasing decisions.

Colors can affect:

  • An individual’s emotion or feeling, especially in connection to their surrounding environment.
  • The eye’s ability to perceive weight and size.
  • Your perception of temperature.
  • Your nervous system.
  • How one would react to sounds, taste, odors, and time perception.

If you want to focus on building a strong brand, color is an important aspect to consider. While it’s not the only factor to consider, it’s a good place to start.

color correcting before after editing

Should you Color Correct Before or After Editing?

This is a common question we get from our clients. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Color correcting before editing has the advantage of giving you a better idea of what the final image will look like. It can also help you to identify problem areas that may need additional editing later on. The downside is that it can be time-consuming, and you may end up undoing some of your color corrections during the editing process. Color correcting after editing has the advantage of being faster since you can make global changes that will affect the entire image. It can also help to refine your edits and achieve a more polished look. The downside is that it can be difficult to identify problem areas, and you may end up over-correcting some areas of the image. Ultimately, the decision of whether to color correct before or after editing comes down to personal preference and what works best for you and your workflow. Here at Pixel by Hand, we generally do color correcting before editing and apply color grading during post-production. We want to attend to all imperfections first, like removing dust spots, correcting exposure and white balance, increasing contrast, etc., so that we can have a clean slate to work with before we get creative with color grading.

How Do You Color-Correct a Product Image?

At Pixel by Hand, we use industry-standard tools like Adobe Photoshop when color-correcting client images. We first start with making any global changes, like adjusting the white balance, exposure, and contrast. We then move on to local adjustments, like targeting specific areas of the image to color correct. For white balance, we use the eyedropper tool to select a neutral area of the image (usually grey or white) and click to set the white balance. For exposure, we use the levels or curve adjustments. And for contrast, we use the levels or curve adjustments as well. For local adjustments, we use a combination of the brush tool, gradient tool, and selective color adjustment layer. We target specific areas of the image that need more attention and make manual adjustments until we achieve the desired look.

Steps to Image Color Correction

1. Adjust the highlights and mid-tones There is no denying the power of highlights, shadows, and mid-tones in photography. Shadows are the black areas of a frame that appear when shooting in poorly-lit areas. They can underexpose the subject of an image and reduce the level of detail visible in the frame. Highlights are the brightest sections of the frame. When enough light falls on the subject, it aids in image exposure and provides a focal point in the shot. If the highlights are too bright, though, the picture will be overexposed. The in-between, the middle tones of the frame, are known as mid-tones. Grey will be the middle tone of a picture if black and white are the primary colors for a photographer. To adjust the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows, open the image in Photoshop. Create a new Levels Adjustment Layer. In the Highlights section, drag the white Input Level marker to the right until it’s just before the point where the histogram starts to spike. In the Midtones section, drag the gray Input Level marker to the left until it’s just before the point where the histogram starts to spike. 2. Increase saturation on the subject Color saturation is one of the most exciting concepts in photo editing because it can have such a big impact on the final image. Brightening up the colors can change the mood of a shot, make it pop, and help deliver its message to viewers. A photographer must be aware of the dangers of using too much saturation. Our brains are wired to see colors that are pure and properly saturated, so when we see something that is oversaturated, it looks fake and artificial. To increase saturation in Photoshop, create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Increase the Saturation to +20 and drag the Yellow slider to +10. 3. Desaturate the shadows Applying saturation globally can be effective, but it is often used locally to enhance a given aspect of the frame without changing the picture’s main aesthetic. For example, shadow desaturation should be considered for a cinematic and atmospheric effect. The same logic applies to highlights. To desaturate shadows, create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Click on the drop-down menu and choose Shadows. Decrease the Saturation to -30. 4. Use Waveform and Histogram graphs Graphs are essential sources of technical data about the shot, such as detecting color imbalances and recognizing when a shot has too many blacks or highlights. However, interpreting the Waveform, Histogram, and Vector is difficult — let alone manipulating and correcting them. The Waveform display shows the RGB values for an image, which are usually between 20 and 90. A rule that photographers should follow when manipulating the waveform is that any value below 0 or above 100 will be outside of the visible color spectrum. So, if you want to make blacks darker or highlights brighter, you can increase or reduce the Waveform values beyond what’s visible. The histogram is used to check the exposure of an image, i.e., if the image is underexposed, overexposed, or has a perfect exposure. The graph illustrates the number of pixels for each level between black and white. The dark side of the histogram is located to the left, while the brighter shadows are to the right of the graph. RGB histograms measure the number of Red-Green-Blue pixels in an image, just like black-and-white histograms. You can use these to adjust the color channels as you see fit. The Vector display is used to see where colors are clipping. Clipping occurs when colors are forced beyond their normal range and start to appear posterized. If you want to make changes to the Waveform, Histogram, or Vector displays, you can do so in Photoshop by creating a new Curves Adjustment Layer. 5. Choose a specific color grade for stylistic emphasis Your images will appear more refined and polished when they share a primary color scheme. Maintaining an overarching theme in your photography will make you stand out to potential clients and give your pictures a specific atmosphere, mood, or set of emotions. The following are the most common options for primary color shades:
  • Blue: which can be used for a calming and serene feeling
  • Red: used to evoke feelings of excitement or love
  • Yellow: often makes people feel happy, warm, and optimistic
For product photos, white is often used for a clean and modern look, while black can be used to give an image more depth. You can change the colors in Photoshop by creating a new Color Balance Adjustment Layer. Choose the color you want to emphasize from the drop-down menu and drag the sliders until you’re happy with the result. 6. Use masks and vignettes Masks and vignettes play such an important role in photography that every photographer should learn how to use them. Vignettes and masks are commonly used for local color grading. A vignette is an effect that darkens the edges of an image, while a mask is a circular or iris-shaped overlay with harder edges. For product images, using a vignette can be a way to focus the viewer’s attention on the subject. For landscapes and lifestyle shots, using a mask can help emphasize the sun or moon.
image color correct

Image Color Correction and Photo Editing Service

If you’re not sure how to get started with color grading or photo editing, Pixel by Hand eCommerce Photo Editing Service can help. We offer a complete range of image color correction, photo retouching, and photo editing services to help you achieve the perfect look for your photos.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or to get started with your FREE Trial!

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