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How to remove Color Cast from Photos/Images?

A little color cast can actually look good in some images (like a warm orange radiance on a sunset image) however, it’s always better to add this manually in the post-processing or to purposefully create it using a warmer White Balance in the camera. The color cast coming straight from the camera is generally less attractive and has a grimy feel to it.

We’ll look at three methods that are really useful to remove color cast in Photoshop. These methods are all equally easy and will take just a minute (at most!) to perform, even though the difference can be vast.

Method #1: Levels Adjustment Layer

This is a tool, which can be used in a number of settings. Those who are already accustomed with Photoshop, might be acquainted with this tool as a wonderful way to add or adjust the contrast. Nevertheless, you can also use it to neutralize and remove color cast.

  1. Open a Levels Adjustment Layer
  2. Select the eyedropper tool as shown in the picture.
  3. Click on the area where the pixel/area is supposed to be grey or white.

That’s it! The nastiest of the color cast must now be eliminated. In the majority of cases, this technique will do a satisfactory job. In addition to neutralizing the poorest of the color cast, you may see that it has also added some additional contrast, which, in many cases, may be a good thing.

Still, if you notice some color cast left and you’re not happy about it, again just open up the levels adjustment and in every separate channel (Red, Green and Blue) slide the middle slider (midtone slider) towards the right or left, depending on the color cast.

Although this technique requires some trial and error but once you get the hang of it and realize how the different channels’ colors work, it can do an amazing job.

Method #2: Match Color

When the color cast is ruling, like in the image that is shown in the example, the technique of “Match Color” will make a big difference. This method is considerably easier compared to the previous one and needs just a click.

  1. Go to Image, click on Adjustments and select Match Color
  2. In the window, which appears, check the Neutralize box
  3. Click OK

And, Done!

This will take only a few seconds to create an extraordinary difference. You can adjust the Luminance and Color Intensity sliders to reintroduce some color and life into the image. You can also increase the saturation slightly along with the overall brightness.

In maximum cases, the adjustment won’t be necessary, though. Just check the neutralize box to get a good outcome. Nevertheless, this just displays that playing around with the sliders can be a great way to learn.

Method #3: Adobe Camera Raw

Camera Raw has a truly convenient tool, which can help fix the white balance issues – really fast. This is located up in the top toolbar and is known as the “White Balance Tool”. In order to access it, you simply need to click the icon. If you prefer the keyboard shortcuts, simply click “I.”

If you want to use the white balance tool efficiently, you need to spot something neutral in your image – something which should be white or grey. Now, if you click the icon to activate the white balance tool and then use the dropper to pick an area of the photo which is supposed to be white, you can see the whole coloring of the photo changes to a more realistic depiction of what the color temperature is supposed to be.

Global vs Local Color Management

All the three methods discussed above are simple, flexible and fairly perfect ways to remove color cast from photos or images in Photoshop. That being said, we will quickly discuss global versus local adjustments while working with color management. Although this is a small deviation from the color casts, it still is the same topic.

Global adjustments mean the visible adjustments on the whole image. Although most of the images need some global adjustments, a global color correction is not always preferred. Always remember that the colors in scenery vary a lot and the camera can’t always capture this appropriately.

In some cases, you’ll want to keep the color cast in certain areas as it benefits the image. Usually, for a shadow area, slight blue cast is beneficial whereas, for color casts like a yellow or orange, a warmer highlight area works better. When working with color, utilizing the Layer Masks to eliminate the adjustments (or make them weak) in specific areas can be more appropriate and visually appealing.

For the layers that are created using the above-mentioned methods, a layer mask can be effortlessly added to them and is worth experimenting with. Moreover, this lets you remove the color correction (adjustment) manually from the areas where you want to retain the color cast.