The Jacob’s Ladder Color Correction Technique

All the corrections below were done with a combination of the Jacob’s Ladder technique (download the action; moniker from Klaus Nordby), unsharp masking, & the shadow–highlight tool. Click a heading to see the origins of the original image, & click an image to go to the jpeg file.

Candy Store:

A photograph of candy apples in a store window; photograph is flat & cloudy, with a blue-green cast and poor contrast. The same candy apple photograph, with its color corrected; now the chocolate color is rich and warm and delicious looking, and the colorful candies are oh-so shiny.

Big Rocks:

(my own image)

This photograph of a tree in scrubby desert in front of a massive rock (and behind that a blue sky) is decent, but its colors lack pizazz. The same rock photograph, but with greatly improved contrast and color.

“Rescue This Image”:

An old-timey photo of three posed elderly travelers on an orange road in front of a purple sky.  The image is low contrast with an awful orange cast. The contrast from the previous image has been improved and the color cast removed—the whites are white, the skin skin-colored, the road relatively neutral—so that the photo now looks as if shot yesterday.


(in this case, a mask was also used to separately adjust the hair)

This self-portrait photograph, taken by the teenage sister of an online forum member, was apparently shot with improper white balance, so her face and the background both appear quite blue. This improved version of the previous image has improved contrast, and now appears to have been taken with a neutral or slightly warmish light.

Monterey Spot:

This gorgeous image of a large rock and some trees in front of blue water and a far-away coastline has excellent contrast, but not ideal, and also has flat-appearing colors, particularly in the rock. This image tweaks the contrast of the previous image, but more importantly adds blue to the water, and a nice orangey-red to the rock.


(with several alternatives)

This photograph taken from the top of a beautiful and colorful canyon at night is too dark to properly make out the shapes of the canyon. This first improvement of the original canyon image decides to make the foreground cliff brown, reserving purer colors for the background and sky.
The second canyon variation decides instead to maximally improve contrast, and then subsequently add color back to the image. This third attempt at correcting the canyon image adds the most color to the background, and the best contrast to the foreground.


An animation showing how the color of a faded red car sitting in the grass can be dramatically changed using the Jacob’s Ladder technique without affecting the grass color.