The 2 BEST ways to remove colour cast in Photoshop

Colour cast is a tint of a particular colour that affects your image in such a way that some of all colours in it will not correspond to what you expected them to be.

Below is my video tutorial on what I reckon are the best two techniques to remove colour cast in Adobe Photoshop

 
Regarding the images I used as examples in the tutorial, the first one is a resort called Cancela do Porco that I shot on Pico Island in the Azores.

The second picture was taken in Italy and is a close-up of a painting in Galleria del Corso, Milan.

Feel free to play with the Before and After below to see the effect of colour cast removal.
It may look subtle to some, but it is actually quite a difference! 


Over time, I got to learn that it is always a good idea to try one of the methods depicted in my tutorial on the photographs I take, even when they do not seem to be affected by colour cast.

It is surprising how our eyes get used to tones and contrast and, after a while, they find normal what a fresh eye would consider as very weird!
This actually holds true for any kind of post-processing.

If you liked my post and tutorial, please pick a time to like and share!

Cheers,
Enrico

Milan cityscape: Before and After

This post is a both a tutorial and a story behind the shot
As for the tutorial part, have a look at the before and after below and, if you want to learn about my workflow in Adobe Lightroom, watch the video I linked further down the page or visit my YouTube channel

Torri Richard and the San Cristoforo area in Milan - single exposure version

 

I captured this image at sunrise in Milan, Italy, on the 24th December 2016.
Milan is my hometown, but I have lived abroad for over a decade and the day before Christmas I was staying at a friend's place.
My attention was drawn to the colorful sunrise and I rushed out on the balcony, armed with my camera and tripod.

The light being so warm and pleasing, I decided to underexpose my shot so that I could capture all the details in the sky: tones, colours and texture of the clouds. Knowing my camera inside out, I had no doubts I could fully recover the shadows in post-production. 

This is actually my fancy version of the story. I am not saying it is a fake one, just incomplete.
The whole story is that I bracketed 3 shots, 2 stops apart from each other (-2, 0, +2).
I then merged those 3 shots using Lightroom's HDR engine, producing a super RAW file with a much higher dynamic range, which I do prefer to the single shot version. 

Torri Richard and the San Cristoforo area in Milan - HDR version (3 exposures)

I thought the HDR version would lend itself to a more effective post-processing, in terms of contrast and colour grading. I first used Lightroom and then Photoshop.
As a bonus, by including the 0 and + 2 stops  exposures I got the Italian flag (which you can see in the centre of the frame) slightly flapping in the wind - a feature that was lacking in the underexposed photograph.

To keep things simple in the tutorial, I will only be using the underexposed image to produce what I reckon is still a very acceptable result. I hope you will enjoy the video. 

Believe it or not, when I took this photo I did not know the name of the towers, let alone their history.
In the morning light - a truly beautiful golden hour - I even thought they were modern and very recently built, but I was wrong.

It turns out that the Torri Richard (named after Via Richard - i.e. Richard Street) - also known as Torri del Naviglio - were built in the '80s and, since their very beginnings they become the subject of a big controversy in relation to how, where and on top of what they were built. 
Furthermore, most people find them ugly.

It is not my intention to go into any of these arguments. As a photographer, that morning, I simply thought they had an element of beauty and interest, nicely complemented by the grungy railway and nearby buildings.

For living things as well as cities, I believe scars are no less part of history than are beautiful highlights.

Over time, I got to learn how hard it is to judge what is beautiful and what is ugly when reality goes through the process of being painted with light, a process we more commonly call photography.

Cheers,
Enrico

The best way to remove halos from your pictures

Have you ever noticed a white glow along the edge of a building, tree or mountain in your pictures?
Welcome to the club. It is called haloing.

Halos are artifacts that thrive undisputed in over-processed HDR pictures, whenever tone mapping is pushed over the limit. They are also produced as a result of too high a value for clarity or over-sharpening.
However, sometimes haloing also affect images that would look very clean and natural otherwise.

No matter what their origin is, in today's digital photography halos tend to be perceived as a result of over-processing and, for this reason, I always try to get rid of them.

I made a quick video tutorial to show you my favourite technique to remove halos in Adobe Photoshop.
You can watch it or, if you prefer, just go ahead and read the text. They both illustrate the same concept. 

 

In general, haloing is found in high-contrast scenes. Therefore, you should give your images a careful check for halos whenever you have a dark foreground against a bright background.

Here is my favourite technique to remove halos in Adobe Photoshop:

  1. Create a stamp visible layer, so that whatever you did to your image so far will not be affected by what you do next. If things go wrong with halos removal, you will just delete the newly created layer.
    (PC: Control + Alt + Shift + E, Mac: Command + Option + Shift + E)
  2. Select the Clone Stamp tool.
  3. Set the mode of the Clone Stamp tool to Darken.
  4. Set the opacity of the Clone Stamp tool to about 80%.
  5. Sample a bright area next to the halos.
    (PC: Alt + Click, Mac: Option + click)
  6. Brush the halos to remove them.

For better results, I suggest you zoom in between 100% and 400% before you start brushing. How much exactly you need to zoom in depends on your image.
Try it and let me know your results. I am pretty sure you will be impressed!

This is all you have to know to apply the technique. However, if you are like me, you may be interested in knowing why this technique is so efficient at removing halos. Should it be the case, please keep reading the explanation below.

The secret of the technique resides in setting the Clone Stamp tool in Darken mode.
In Photoshop, modes can be applied to lots of tools and also elements, such as layers.
In particular, the Darken mode compares two sets of pixels in a pixel by pixel fashion, keeping the darker pixel in each pair and discarding the brighter one.

In the Clone Stamp tool case, one set of pixels is what you sample (PC: Alt + Click, Mac: Option + Click) and the second set includes the pixels you brush over.

Consider the picture below. It is a shot of Bled Castle (Bled, Slovenia) I took in December 2016 at blue hour. 

Zoom: 150%. For the sake of the tutorial, I unreasonably increased the clarity to accentuate the halos


The image includes the following elements:

  1. Sky
  2. Roof of the castle + tree
  3. Halos along the roof of the castle and tree

The sky is a lot brighter than the roof of the castle and the tree, but the halos are even brighter than the sky.

Remember: the Darken mode compares two sets of pixels in a pixel by pixel fashion, keeping the darker pixel in each pair and discarding the brighter one.

Since the sky is brighter than the roof, no pixels will be replaced in the roof. On the other hand, since the sky is darker than the halos, the pixels from the sky will replace the pixels where halos are present.

This is how it works. Try it on your pictures and let me know how it goes!

Cheers,

Enrico