Photographing the Milky Way

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Tips & Tricks

Lightroom Color Adjustment for Environmental Portraits

By Shivani Reddy on June 8th 2016

Without a doubt, placing couples within the beauty and bounty of nature is truly a photographer’s heaven. Being able to choose composition based on the natural elements of a scene while incorporating the myriad of rich and vivid colors present, makes it a playground of creative opportunities. A side effect occurs, however, when these saturated tones cause a tint shift to the overall image.

Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma Art 35mm, ISO 50, f/1.4, 1/200th of a Second

Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma Art 35mm, ISO 50, f/1.4, 1/200th of a Second

Take for example this image above, straight out of camera, that shows the heavy distortion of tint due to the foliage. By adjusting the Tint and Saturation of targeted colors, we can help combat the infiltration of these colors as they leak or reflect onto our subject’s skin tones.

Tint Color Adjustment

Often when shooting around areas lush in foliage, such as forests or gardens, you’ll find that a green hue reflects onto your subjects’ skin. This effect occurs regardless of whether or not the sun is out, and therefore causes pigmentation issues in skin tone no matter the time of day. One option is to add a flash into the scene, if that’s the look you intend to execute, however, if you want to work strictly with the natural light there is a way to correct this tint problem in Lightroom.

03-hue-color-adjustment

Finding a neutral white balance should be your first concern. Take your white balance picker (Shortcut: Control/Command + W) and select a point that works best for your desired look. This step is based on personal preference, however, finding the correct White Balance should be based on your subject’s skin tone. This will give you a more accurate depiction of what the scene’s color temperature should look like.

This selection automatically adjusts the Tint slider to reflect the change in temperature, and in scenarios with foliage or heavy greenery, there should be more bias towards the magenta side of the Tint slider to counterbalance the color shift due to the green in the image.

02-hue-color-adjustment

Dial in your exposure settings to reflect the change in Temperature and Tint to arrive at a brighter image that brings out the natural colors of the image.

Adjusting Color Saturation

Honing in on specific colors that need fine tuning is a counterpart in this process of color adjustment. The HSL panel in Lightroom allows users to orchestrate the dominance or subtlety of a color’s hue, saturation, and luminance.

lightroom-color-adjustment

While shooting in nature, green tends to become an overpowering color and can easily be adjusted using the Saturation Panel, and you can accurately select the specific color or range of colors by using the picker located in the top left corner of the HSL panel. This adjustment should be done in small increments to make sure the image remains balanced in color, and doesn’t become either overly saturated or desaturated.

[REWIND: 3 Important Ways to Edit Color in Lightroom]

Removing Chromatic Aberration

When you have a backlit scene with multiple vibrant colors throughout, your lens can fail to focus on all the relevant colors at the same convergence point. This technical failure, also known as Chromatic Aberration, causes colored fringes around harsh edges in images produced by uncorrected lenses. Lightroom’s Lens Correction panel is catered to aiding photographers in battling this minuscule monster – but, you are hereby warned of its power. The Defringe slider corrects magenta and green hues that line harsh edges in an image, but when fluctuated, can alter magenta and green portions globally in the image.

[REWIND: CHROMATIC ABERRATION BE DAMNED | EASY FIX FOR STUBBORN CA]

The true test in this process is knowing when you’ve gone too far; being able to sense whether an image is far too green or magenta is a skill that can be acquired over time with practice and attention to fine detail.

Join Premium

For more tips on Lightroom Post-Production, check out our Advanced Lightroom CC Processing Workshop, the ultimate learning tool for in-depth education of advanced editing techniques and solutions to lighting issues in post. Unlock access to this workshop and so much more as a SLR Lounge Premium Subscription member – find out more here!

Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. jon bilson

    While the color cast is gone, so is the detail in the highlights/quarter tones. Perhaps some highlight recovery?

    | |
  2. Mark C

    Nice article Shivani! A lot of my images have the green cast issue. I just assumed it was Nikon’s sensor favouring green/yellow, like Canon’s seems to favour red. Blew that theory out of the water! Thanks

    | |
    • Shivani Reddy

      Thanks Mark! I shoot Canon and I have found that more often than not I see a green cast. I play around with the tint shift in camera when I know it could be beneficial/a timesaver for post producing.

      | |
[i]
[i]