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3 Ways to Fix Tints and Casts in Photos With Adobe Camera Raw

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Rid yourself of unwanted colours and tints in your photographs using Adobe Camera Raw, including using the new three-way colour grading wheels.

Colour Casts

What is a Colour Cast or Tint and How Are They Caused?

A colour cast or tint is an unwanted colour in your photograph. This could be because the white balance setting on your camera wasn’t quite right making the colour "temperature" of the image off. This might manifest as a tint over the whole image (usually yellow or blue), or just parts of the image being affected, like skin tones, for example.

Tints or casts might also be down to ambient light or flash causing neutrally coloured objects to take on the colour of their surroundings.

How to Avoid Colour Casts When Photographing

There are some things you can do to avoid getting casts or tints in your photos:

  • Avoid brightly coloured clothing which can tint skin tones
  • Test which directions or angles you can photograph your subject that will help you avoid a cast
  • Adjust your white balance in camera
  • Use a grey card to give you a neutral reference point (this is something to help you out when editing, later)
  • Try filters to neutralise colours

Sometimes a cast is unavoidable though, so here are some methods for fixing or removing colour casts and tints using Adobe Camera Raw.

Did you know: it really helps to know a little about colour theory when you're colour correcting your photographs. Check out our guide to using colour theory for more creative control in your photos.

How to Fix Tints and Casts in Adobe Camera Raw: 3 Quick Methods

A photograph with a yellow tintA photograph with a yellow tintA photograph with a yellow tint
A photograph with a yellow tint

Here’s a picture of a duck that I've deliberately given a yellow cast.

Method 1: White Balance and Tint

white balancewhite balancewhite balance
Adjusting white balance

Your first stop will likely be White Balance: Temperature and Tint, which you’ll find in the Basic menu. Adjusting these will make a change to your whole image, which is great if the colour cast affects everything.

If the cast is too yellow/warm, move the Temperature slider to blue/cool and adjust Tint to suit.

Alternative Method

There’s a colour dropped next to the White Balance drop down box and click on a neutral (white/grey) colour. The problem here is that you might not really have a neutral colour available to you, but if I click on one of the duck’s white feathers you can see the result from that is quite good:

white balance dropperwhite balance dropperwhite balance dropper
White balance colour dropper

It does suck almost all of the warmth out of the image though, and some of the yellow tones would be nice to keep, so this might be a good place to start with correcting a tint but you’d have to do further adjustments to get a well-balanced image.

Method 2: Colour Mixer

Your tint or cast might not always look terrible and you might actually want to just adjust it rather than remove it. In Colour Mixer you can target specific colours, shift them to other hues, make them lighter or darker, and decide how saturated you want them to be.

Colour MixerColour MixerColour Mixer
Colour Mixer

Back to our yellow duck, if I use Colour Mixer to target the oranges and yellows – the prevalent colours in my cast – and adjust them to reduce their saturation and then make further small adjustments to the Hue and Luminance, I can reduce the saturated wash over the image while still keeping the warm tones.

Method 3: Colour Grading Wheels

The three-way colour wheels in Adobe Camera Raw can be one of the simplest ways to fix casts and tints, though you do then limit yourself if you want to do some actual colour grading on top of the corrective fix, as you’re sort of doing both at the same time!

Colour grading wheelsColour grading wheelsColour grading wheels
Colour grading wheels

The great thing about the Colour Grading wheels is that they’re split into three sections: Midtones, Shadows and Highlights which gives you more flexibility about where and how you’re targeting your cast adjustments.

Although the whole image has a yellow tint, that works quite nicely on the highlights like the pebbles in the water and the duck’s beak, so it would be nice to keep those while losing some of the other harsh yellow and orange tones from elsewhere.

Tackle each wheel separately, working on the desired hue and then how saturated you want that to be. Here are each of my wheels after adjustments on the duck image:

Colour wheelsColour wheelsColour wheels
Colour wheels: Highlights, Midtones and Shadows


Let's compare the results all at once.

after ducksafter ducksafter ducks
'After' ducks. Top left: white balance, top right: colour dropper, bottom left: colour mixer, bottom right: colour wheels

Although they're slightly fuzzier like this because of the web sizing, it's easier to see the differences in each effect when the pictures are grouped like this. There's no right or wrong when it comes to fixing a colour cast, so which method you use will depend on your work flow and the result that you want.

'Auto' tools usually do a great job because they're designed for one thing, and in this case the colour dropper (top right image) certainly does remove the yellow cast the most effectively and provides a good starting point. For me, the two methods with the best results are adjusting the white balance combined with tint (top left image) and using the colour wheels (bottom right).

The colour wheels give you much more control as you're separating the tonal ranges and can choose the colour to offset and the strength of that, across each tonal range. The only issue with this method is that you're correcting and colour grading at the same time, and unlike video editing suites like Premiere Pro which have a set of wheels for each, Adobe Camera Raw doesn't. Still, it gives you a really effective way to adjust your colours easily and in a more targeted way than any of the others do—though you can use some of the other options with an adjustment brush for a more finely-tuned result—and if your photo is in need of rescuing then a small hit in the flexibility of colour grading is probably a small price to pay.

More Adobe Camera Raw Tutorials

Share Your Craft on the Envato Forums

Did you try one or more of these techniques? What did you think? Please let us know on the Envato forums, we love to see what you create with these tutorials.

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