What are Color Casts and How to Avoid & Fix Them
Color casts in your photography can be annoying. Learn the BEST way to fix a color cast using photo editing software and how to avoid them in the first place.
By Ana Mireles
A color cast can ruin your pictures, or it can also be a creative touch of genius.
hat’s why sometimes you might want to avoid a color cast (or fix it), and sometimes you’ll want to add a color cast.
Buckle up, as you’re about to learn how to do it all in this article!
What is a Color Cast in Photography?
A color cast is a tint that affects all or part of your image. There are many reasons why you would have a color cast – for example, because the light source has a specific hue.
Another problem is that the color from one object is reflected onto nearby objects.
In some cases, the color cast is a mistake or a problem. However, as a photographer, you can use it as a creative element. For example, you can use color gels in your flashes.
How do I identify a color cast?
The easiest way to identify it is to find something neutral, like a white wall, and see if it’s actually white. Remember that color casts are more difficult to notice in the shadows, so start with the lightest parts of your image.
How to Avoid Color Casts in Photography
1. Set the White Balance on your camera
All digital cameras have white balance presets according to the type of light. Some even let you choose a custom WB using an image or adding the specific kelvin degrees value.
2. Use a grey card
Make sure you capture one of the images with a grey card. This will make it easier for you to correct the white balance in post-production.
3. Separate your subject from color reflections
If a colored background or an object in the image is casting an unwanted tint on your subject – leave enough space between them to avoid having problems.
Otherwise, you can try to capture it from a different angle.
4. Use color-calibrated lights
Use a flash (Speedlight) or a Led light that’s calibrated as white light. This way you’ll avoid unwanted hues on your subject.
How to Fix a Color Cast in Photoshop
Start by adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Then, use the hand icon to sample the color you want to adjust.
Use the sliders at the bottom of the panel to fine-tune the range and determine how hard or smooth you want the transition.
Then, use the Hue and Saturation sliders to fix the color cast.
If you want to apply these adjustments to a part of the image, you can use the layer mask. Invert the mask to make it all black, making the adjustments invisible.
Then, use the Brush tool with white and paint over the area you want to fix.
Finally, adjust the Opacity to find the perfect balance. Check out the video to see this technique in action.
How do I remove a color cast in Photoshop Elements?
Photoshop Elements has a dedicated tool to fix unwanted color casts. To activate it, open the menu Enhance and choose Remove Color Cast.
Then, click on a part that should be white, neutral grey or black – the photograph will change colors automatically.
Click OK to accept the changes or Reset to try again.
How to Fix a Color Cast in Lightroom
In the Basic panel from the Develop module in Adobe Lightroom, you’ll find different tools that will help you correct unwanted color casts in your photos.
First, you can try the dropdown choices next to the White Balance tool. If you’re working with a JPEG, you’ll see fewer options than those shown in the video – which are only available for RAW.
If none of these works, you can use the Temp and Tint sliders. Drag them in the direction of the color opposite to the one you want to correct. For example, if you have a blue color cast – pull the Temp slider towards the yellow.
A third option is to use the White Balance Selector (the eye-dropper icon). Activate it and click on the part of your photo that should be middle grey. You can then fine-tune using the sliders.
You can use different methods for each part of your photo, as shown in the example video.
How to Add a Color Cast in Photoshop
There are many ways to add color casts when you’re post-processing photos. One of the best techniques is to use adjustment layers in Adobe Photoshop to introduce a tint and change the blend modes to vary the way it affects the colors in the photo.
To add multiple color casts and apply them in different parts of the picture – use layer masks. You can check out the video to see an example of how you can use this technique to turn a simple portrait into an eye-catching masterpiece.
Color Cast FAQs
What does remove color cast mean?
It means that you adjust the colors of your photos in post-processing so that your subject looks more natural.
How do I remove color cast from ND filter?
Most auto white balance tools do a good job. If you want to use manual controls – you can use the color temperature sliders on your photo-editing program. Most ND filters leave a blue color cast, so you need to add some yellow to compensate.
Is white light free from color casts?
Technically speaking, white light has all the colors. However, in photography, white light is the accepted standard of light that doesn’t have any color cast – hence you don’t need to color correct it. White light is the equivalent of the midday sun during a clear summer day, and that’s how a flash is calibrated to recreate with artificial light.
That’s how easy it is to add or remove a color cast – it doesn’t matter what caused it. I hope you found the article helpful and you enjoy experimenting with the tint in your photos.
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