Correcting Color Casts in PS

Let’s talk Color Casts-what are they? Essentially, they’re a color that is bouncing off from its source and appearing on your subject. Ideally, you would avoid this before you get to editing, but let’s be real, sometimes, that’s the least of your worries in a session. I’ve been there!

Color casts can come from the sky appearing to give white or black clothing a blue-ish tone (even black or white hair!). Or if your subject is wearing a bright red shirt, the color casts can be reds appearing in the shadows of their face. Even grass can give off a green or yellow color cast on your subject. If you use any type of preset or action, these can also leave color casts on skin tones/clothes/etc. You can edit these small areas and keep the overall feel of your preset/action.

They may look like just a small area of color (they can also be very large, like my example photo), but they ALL make a world of difference when they are corrected.

In the example image, the girl has a very, very big red color cast down the left side of her face. This is coming from the setting sun hitting the log cabin she is sitting near. I’ve drawn circles on her face so you can see where these casts are for this image. They are not always easy to spot, especially if you're not used to looking for them.

I am strictly a self-taught Photoshop User. Over the years, I have learned many, many things and each of them have a few different ways of doing said thing and getting the same result. For this quick tutorial, I’m going to go with the easiest approach, specifically for users who have little to no Photoshop knowledge and skill.

First, let’s duplicate our photo. Right click on the layer and select duplicate.

Go up to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.

A box will pop up next, and here is where you will make the most impact on your image. You can move this window off to the side, if you need to see your image better. You can see that the image mostly has a red color cast. So, I’m going to select ‘red’ from the bottom drop down menu. Make sure ‘preview’ is checked in the bottom right corner of this pop up.

This is where you will need to play with the sliders to find the appropriate settings to fix your color cast. Play around with the sliders, you can also click and unclick ‘preview’ to view your changes. I highly recommend doing that. Keep in mind, this WILL change your entire image, every red in the image will be affected. That’s okay. Don’t stress with that right now, we’re just wanted to make sure we get a good ‘color’ to replace the reds in this color cast.

For my image, a hue of 5 and a lightness of 10 works best. Her skin tone is still present, even, and it looks natural.

Select ‘ok’ once you’re happy with your color fix. It will make the changes you selected to the newly created layer you made.

With the new layer selected, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All.

This will then bring your image back to how it originally looked before you adjusted the colors. On the layer panel, it will have a black square now linked to it. With the white box around the black square, use a paintbrush (soft) colored white, and paint over your color casts. If it’s too much, you can change the opacity of your brush…as well as the hardness, if you need to get in delicate areas. I find that I use a 50% opacity soft brush works best!

You can do this multiple times for multiple color casts; some images will have multiple different casts in various spots. It’s a super easy tool that can make a WORLD of difference!

Before and After

The below example is a before and after of removing the green and yellow color cast from the grass onto the dog’s head AND the blue color cast from the sky throughout his body.

Before and After

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