Removing the green cast from photos taken under fluorescent lighting

Shot a bunch of photos under fluorescent lighting, but didn't have your camera set to fluorescent white balance? You'll probably find your photos have a nasty green cast. Thankfully, it is possible to remove this cast after the fact.

In this article I'll show you a couple of ways you can remove the cast, using a white balance adjustment or the curves tool.

White balance adjustment

If you shoot RAW, you can adjust the white balance of your photo during the RAW conversion process. It depends on your RAW conversion software exactly how you do this, but most software allows you to do at least one of the following:

  • Manually set the color temperature and tint
  • Select a preset white balance (hint - select the fluorescent preset)
  • Use a white balance color dropper to click on an area in the image that should be white

Some software, e.g. Adobe Camera RAW also allows you to adjust the white balance of JPEG files. But generally it will give a much better result when used with a RAW file.

the older i get, the seedier i am by orange tuesday on flickr
the older i get, the seedier i am by orange tuesday on flickr | Source

To correct the green cast in the above image, I opened the JPEG file in Adobe Camera RAW. Then I used the white balance color dropper tool on the top of one of the pipes, as these would be near neutral color in real life. Doing this removes the green cast, and gives the image below:

With white balance corrected in ACR
With white balance corrected in ACR | Source

Using curves to remove the color cast

Now let's look at a more extreme case, even the white balance eyedropper in ACR couldn't correct the color cast in this photo (which was purposefully shot with a green cast):

dramatic portrait green me by orange tuesday on flickr
dramatic portrait green me by orange tuesday on flickr | Source

Open the image in your image editing software, and then go to the curves dialog. The first thing to do is to change the curve for the green channel. Pull it way down to reduce the green.

Next, increase the red channel

And finally, boost the blue channel

With the tone curve applied, the image looks like this:

Source

Okay, it isn't exactly perfect, but given the extreme green cast in the original, I think it's a pretty good correction. Hopefully your own photos don't have quite an extreme cast as the photo used above (unless you were going for a strong green cast, but then you wouldn't want to be correcting it).

The less strong the cast, the less extreme the curves adjustments you will need to make to correct the cast. For more information about the curves tool and using it to correct color casts please see my article Image editing – adjusting color with the curves tool.

Convert to B&W

Finally, you can always get rid of that green color cast by getting rid of all the color, and converting to black and white.

Source

I hope these tips help. Ultimately, shooting RAW and setting the correct white balance at the time of shooting is the best way to remove the green cast from fluorescent lighting. If you also use a tool such as a whitebal or grey card to manually set the white balance, this will give the most accurate and neutral results.

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Comments 7 comments

ladeda profile image

ladeda 4 years ago

Great tips! Thanks for this Hub!


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

Good information to know. Hasn't happened to me and I have no clue what RAW is but perhaps its because I only use a point and shoot camera. Still the article is great for people that have the capability you have spoken of.


Alex Bramwell profile image

Alex Bramwell 4 years ago from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

The trick to avoid this sort of problem is to shoot in RAW and then set the white balance manually!


Lynn S. Murphy 4 years ago

Great information and thanks for the step by step instructions.


photographyadvice profile image

photographyadvice 4 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for the comments everyone, glad you found this hub helpful.


Caroline 4 years ago

Thanks! Just one thing, I wish there were something I could do directly in my camera settings, since I want to minimize or eliminate the time in Photoshop.


photographyadvice profile image

photographyadvice 4 years ago from UK Author

Caroline, to avoid fixing this in Photoshop, just make sure that you have the white balance set correctly on your camera. If you're shooting under fluorescent lighting, then set the white balance to fluorescent on the camera. Then no fixing in Photoshop will be needed. :)

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