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How to remove orange cast from night time images, in iphoto?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by crossen, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. crossen

    crossen Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2014
    I use a Mac and my only image processing software is iPhoto. I use an EM10 these days and I love it but my question applies to all my images. Lots of urban street shots at night in Europe, especially Rome.

    I have tens of thousands of images there so I prefer not to leave iphoto for another, though better, image processing software. I shoot only in JPEG.

    According to the instructions in iphoto, a color cast in an image can be removed by clicking on a white or neutral grey portion of the image using the little cross symbol.

    But very few, almost none, of my night time images have a clean white or a neutral grey portion of the image.

    I would appreciate any suggestions you may have for alleviating this problem.

    Thanks to all who will comment.

  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    May I suggest posting an image that shows the issue?
  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    FWIW there are two flavors of night-time lighting. The most common indoor and store-front lighting is incandescent light from a glowing filament in a light bulb. This has a different "color temperature" than sunlight but is is a continuous spectrum of light/contains all the colors. The warm yellow color of the incandescent can be changed more toward sunlight by reducing the colder (temperature-wise) red and yellow portion of the spectrum, which raises the proportion of blue and makes the lighting look more like sunlight. That's what color temperature correction does. See also "Color Conversion" here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter

    Fluorescent lights also emit a somewhat continuous spectrum that can be color-corrected, though with a bit more difficulty. The old standard "cool white" fluorescents were greenish and corrected well with a CC30M (light magenta) filter. Newer ones with different colors require different corrections.

    So continuous is one flavor, discontinuous is another.

    Typical outdoor street-type lighting is uses sodium (deep yellow), high-pressure sodium (yellowish), or mercury (bluish). This is nasty lighting for a photographer because these bulbs only emit certain discrete colors of light. Standard sodium emits ONLY yellow light, so you can cut down the yellow all you want and you will not have any blue to be increasing in proportion. (more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium-vapor_lamp) All one can say is that dealing with these types of bulbs will, for a photographer, be frustrating. So the problem is more than just not having a neutral gray patch to set your color balance from.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Shooting in JPEG limits you somewhat. In RAW you just set the white balance according to the lighting that you were shooting under (something close to tungsten probably for your orange casts) and fine-adjust it until the tones are right. When you're doing night shooting, I'd encourage you to resist the urge to shoot JPEG and give RAW a shot. There are plenty of other problems with low-light photos that'll benefit from RAW shooting as well.
  5. WendyK

    WendyK Super Moderator

    Feb 28, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    I would suggest fiddling with the warmth and tint sliders at the bottom the adjust panel in iPhoto (I think that is what they are called. Try the warmth slider first. I always had better luck with those sliders on Jpgs than the white balance eye dropper in iPhoto, anyway.
  6. crossen

    crossen Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2014
    I have made two adjustments. One is to turn the "keep warm colors" setting off on my EM10. I did this a couple of weeks ago. I hope this will help in the future but it doesn't save my existing images.

    The second adjustment was to find an image at night that had a true white portion or a neutral grey portion, click the little cross symbol onto it in the "adjust" function, correcting that image, and then clicking on "copy." When I get to the next orange night time image, I click on "paste" in the adjust function. This often helps but doesn't always work; often I can't find a true white or a neutral grey in any night time image to copy.

    I have tried the sliders in the adjust function but they either give a an ulgly pink or a ugly green cast to the image when I use them.

    There must be an easier way than to switch to a PC, shoot in RAW, and buy and use Lightroom? Or is there?

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    There is no night time choice in WB and in the Scene Mode there is no attempt to compensate for color balance.

    Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions, I appreciate them.
  7. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    There is no easy or perfect answer to this. You probably took the photos on auto white balance (AWB) and so the camera guesses the right colour temperature on a shot-by-shot basis. Plus, not all street lamps are the same colour temperature.

    Usually, the road or street in a photo is neutral grey or very nearly so, and is an ideal reference grey point. Then "copy adjustments" to other photos taken under the same lighting that don't have any road.

    Whenever you get an individual photo about right, then note the colour temperature values in iPhoto. Once you have this for several different lighting situations, you can use those colour temperature values for other photos, at least as a good starting point.

    Looking to your future photos, I don't think you have to completely transform your entire process. But you do need to realise that shooting a lot of nighttime photographs is going to cause colour issues, and you really should be carrying around a grey card and taking a test shot including the grey card under the same lighting as the photos that you just took or are about to take. MAKE SURE your camera is not on AWB; try the various fixed WB settings until you find one closest to reasonable for the lighting you are shooting in. That way, when you use iPhoto to get the grey card photo perfectly grey, having a series of photos taken with the same, fixed, in-camera WB means you can "copy adjustments" from one photo to the next. Assuming you want to keep with jpeg, realise it is not as flexible as RAW for WB adjustments, so try to get reasonably close in the camera first. This will greatly improve your colour accuracy in the future, without needing to drastically change the process.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Basically, what Args wrote. Shooting JPEG on Auto WB and expecting flexibility in terms of future PP will not provide you the desired results. Either correct WB before taking the shot (getting as close to the desired image in camera) or shoot Raw and deal with the WB in no more than 15 seconds in LR.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    Go into the White Balance settings, choose Custom White Balance (CWB) and dial it right down to 2000K. Even doing this, you will still need to do a tint adjustment of the final image, I'm not sure if iPhoto can do this, I don't use it.

    But the big problem with those Orange Sodium lamps is they are only omitting Red and Green light (a bit more Red than Green, hence Orange and not Yellow). So anything in the image that is blue will come out much darker than it should, because you only see "Blue" because the Red and Green is absorbed by the object, while the Blue is reflected. Shine a Red or Green monochrome light onto something blue, and it will appear as some tone of Red or Green, usually a dark tone.

    In other words, their won't be much (if any) information in the Blue channel of your image, so colour balance won't be able to bring the blue back.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I've noticed something between people who were around in the film days and those who never knew of a camera that didn't have some sort of automatic white balance function...

    We're somewhat used to seeing colour-deprived photos of night-time scenes in cities. If you try and correct too much, with an aim towards neutrality, you'll end up with a photo that really lacks "point in time" and looks other-worldly.

    Sometimes inaccurate colours are best. Working with the "Tungsten" preset or a very low colour balance kelvin number usually helps a bit but that grey-green look that a lot of outdoor lighting produces does have a dystopian charm to it.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. crossen

    crossen Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2014
    Yes, I will try the "tungsten" preset outdoors at night as a starting point, it may give less orange results than what I have been doing although I realize that it is just a starting point.

    What you say about inaccurate colors sometimes being best rings a bell for me since I was around for for many decades of the film days. I am finding that getting rid of the orange cast results in a grey green cast that I find very ugly.

    Thank you for your help, I appreciate it.

    As a more general comment, I am very new to the m4/3 forum and I am very impressed with the expertise and good judgment and helpfulness found here. This is a very classy forum.

    • Like Like x 2
  12. zathras

    zathras Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 13, 2014
    Waikato, New Zealand
    Chris Nielsen
    You don't need a PC or Lightroom to shoot RAW. iPhoto will work fine assuming your mac is up to date.

    WB adjustment is the biggest reason to shoot RAW IMHO. iPhoto should give you more WB options when you import a raw...


  13. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Darktable will run on Macs, and is free.

  14. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    You can install Lightroom on your Mac.
  15. DWS

    DWS Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 6, 2014
    I suggest that you download free trial versions of Photoshop Elements and Adobe Lightroom for 2 reasons. First, to see if they can improve the images you already have, albeit, JPEGs, and second, to see if you would like to start shooting Raw format. Shooting in Raw format will give you far, far more flexibility to adjust your images. Shooting in JPEG, however, limits your editing flexibility due to the camera's internal processing. Looking at it another way, shooting in JPEG format puts the camera in editing control while shooting in Raw puts you in editing control. For that reason, I never shoot JPEG format.
  16. chonbhoy

    chonbhoy Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 23, 2013
    Scottish Highlands
    I use iPhoto and a previous comment is correct. It will process RAW/ORF photos, without seeing how bad the colour cast is it's hard to say but a combination of the temperature slider and tint slider will give you results, a little time consuming, even the smallest adjustment will throw things off, you'll just have to judge it. I also use AWB and JPEG a lot and rarely need to set it specifically due to the WB being way out, I think it might be because of the warm colour setting being on, anyway the grey card is a great idea too, I have one but never use it yet I know it's the proper way to get WB spot on :) 
    I forgot to say you have 3 sliders (sort of) underneath the histogram that adjust the tones I think, anyway have a play with them too, hopefully it helps.
  17. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Have you considered just converting it to B&W or sepia? Old Rome looks better in B&W.
  18. crossen

    crossen Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2014
    No, but I have discovered that in iPhoto, turning the saturation slider to 40 or 41 removes a great deal of the orange cast.

    I plan however to figure out how to use a grey card to set the WB accurately for a particular scene,

    Thanks for your comment,

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