Tutorial : when your image has the blues

Black Bear Diner mural taken in shadow

Sometimes you’re going to take a photo of an object in the shadow giving your image a blue cast.  This is easily remedied in  most photo editing software.

The principle thing to remember is that the computer is NOT like painting.  Blue is not opposite Orange and Green is not a Secondary color.  The primary colors for your computer screen is RGB — Red Blue Green and their opposites are CMY — Cyan Magenta Yellow.  K stands for Black, the absence of all color.  Add all your colors together gets white.

It’s important to keep aware of the dyads

Red opposes Cyan

Blue opposes Yellow

Green opposes Magenta

Taking the blue cast out of your shadowed image in any photo-editing program means either subtracting Blue or adding Yellow.   Photo-editing programs may vary in how you add or subtract hues/colors but they all have the ability.

Having said that I’ll show you how it’s done in Photoshop CC.

We are starting with my Bears mural above.  These bears have the blues. Too bad. So sad. First off let’s crop the image to see things more clearly.

In Photoshop CC, there are several ways to cure the blues.

Method 1.  Easiest

Just click on “Menu: Image : Auto Color

With one click, I get this

If you do this, first duplicate the layer as it makes the correction on the image.


Method 2: Second Easiest

In your layers palette, on the bottom,

1. click on adjustment layers (half white half black circle)
2. click on levels.  This pops in a levels layer right above your selected layer.
3. click on auto.

You get this

Method 3: Subtracting Blue

Starts off the same as Method 2. In your layers palette, on the bottom,

1. click on adjustment layers (half white half black circle)
2. click on levels.  This pops in a levels layer right above your selected layer.

And here is where it changes.

3, click on RGB
4. in the RGB dropdown menu, click on Blue
5. slide the middle triangle towards yellow — this decreases blue and adds yellow.

You get this:

Improving Contrast:

The other problem that taking a photo in the shadows is that you lose contrast so you will need to pop the image a little. I go back to RGB. Take a look at the histogram — the far left is your deepest black and your far right is your whitest white. Notice there is a gap with nothing on the far left — that means that area has no black.

I want black so …

Easy way:

1. Click on your layer (you can’t be on the adjustment layer for this step)
2. Go to “Menu : Image : Auto Contrast”

You get this:

Note: I use the photography plan which is currently $9.99 a month in the U.S. as of 3/6/18 and includes the use of Photoshop CC 2018, Lightroom and more, including some mobile apps. I love this plan! I don’t know how much Adobe charges in other countries though.

Now remember this is after I’ve changed things in the blue layer.  If you just go from Auto Color to Auto Contrast, you will get a slightly different result

Second easiest way:

Go back to the Adjustment layer

1. Slide the far left triangle right to the edge of the whiteline.  This far left triangle is your blackest black point.

2. Slide the middle arrow to the right until you see some thing you like

See how much subtracting blue and then increasing contrast can improve your picture?  Look how faded my initial photograph looked and how this one the color pops.  The picture even looks sharper even though I didn’t sharpen it.

Doesn’t matter what program — the principle is the same.  Subtract blue (or add yellow) and increase contrast.  There will be sliders or buttons somewhere that does that for you.  Some programs make changes directly on the image rather than on the layer.  If so, don’t forget to save a copy of the original.  If your photo-editing program does layers, don’t forget to save your original on a layer.

Try it and see how it works for you. 





    • thank you! and thanks for popping by over here too! That was sweet of you.

      Hope you’re having a great day!


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