All Photos Courtesy of Travis Curry
A color cast is a tint of color that appears in a photo, usually this is an unwanted color that has shown up as a reflection of light from objects in an image. A color cast can happen anywhere; in studio, on location or outdoors.
I’ve experienced color cast with both my natural light and studio work. It is a pain and while there are some great tricks for fixing the problem in post production, you definitely want to fix any distracting color casts in camera. I’ve found that a color cast can really affect the quality of my light, though sometimes it can create a unique effect on your photo. It’s important to be aware of color casts, especially when you are using colorful backdrop paper.
If there is any point during a shoot where I think, “Oh, I can just fix that in Photoshop later” I usually stop shooting and address the problem, which in turn can save me a lot of time during the editing and retouching phase. This is true for color casts too! A color cast can happen all over an image or be in a localized spot. Anything can create color casts: backdrops, gels, props, clothes, if it has color, it can cause problems!
Credits: Taylor C | Makeup: Sara Elizabeth | Hair: Frankie Lynn
When I’m shooting with one of my colorful and more vibrant Savage backdrops, I have to be mindful of how I am lighting my subject and the background. A backdrop can easily turn into one big reflector, so if there is light bouncing off my backdrop, there’s a chance that color may hit parts of my subject or affect the overall color balance of my image.
Here are 4 things I do to fix color casting in camera:
1. Adjust Lighting
Lighting is a big part of color casting. Depending on the situation, I may need to adjust the direction of my light. I’ve used flags to absorb the reflected background light and block it from hitting my subject. My light may be too powerful, so dialing the power down often helps alleviate any color issues. I’ve also changed the position and angles of my lights to fix this problem.
Credits: Chloe M | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth
2. Move Your Subject
I find this is the best when working with natural light, however this can work with artificial light as well. Sometimes your subject may be too close to your backdrop, resulting in an overall color cast of your photo. I may move them further from the backdrop or toward a different angle of the light to prevent any color from bouncing onto my subject. Remember, your backdrop can end up being one big reflector, so changing the distance can fix the color cast but can also change the exposure of the background.
Credits: Nicole T | Makeup: Brittany Main | Hair: Sara Elizabeth
3. Add Reflectors & Diffusion
Adding a reflector can help out a lot! You may just need a little extra light to overpower the backdrop’s reflection. I mostly use white reflection, but if needed, I switch to gold or silver reflection to fix any color changes. Diffusing your light will soften the intensity of your light, which can help to reduce color casting. If your window light is too strong, cover the window with a sheer white curtain or use the base of your reflector as a diffuser. This works great when I’m taking iPhone photos for Instagram!
Credits: Laura S | HMUA: Amie Decker
4. Use In-Camera White Balance
If you’re shooting digital, you can adjust your white balance in camera. I often shoot with auto white balance (AWB) but your camera has a variety of white balance modes, including a custom white balance. If you shoot RAW, you can adjust your white balance in post, however if you’re shooting in JPEG, setting the proper white balance in camera is important since the JPEG’s compression gives you little control in changing white balance in post.