Reasons to Shoot Black and White Part 4: Erase Colour Cast

Reasons to shoot black and white on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution. Image description Roller derby photo in monochrome, and with an orange colour cast. Like the previous blog post in this series, today I’m talking about ways to save a problem photo from the bin. Colour casts are problems which affect the whole image, not just one spot or area. When I’ve been taking photos in one location and every single one has the same problem, I really need a way to save the entire shoot. I’ll explain how the problem arises and why it’s so hard to fix.

Colour Cast – the Longer Explanation

You can skip to the short version lower down but you’ll miss some interesting stuff!

Although the title of this blog says “colour cast” I also have to talk about “white balance” which is kind of the same but different. Stay with me here, it’s fairly simple: When white balance is slightly wrong, a photo will end up looking slightly too warm or cold. For example blue sky might look purple or a white house may look yellow. It’s a bit like when you buy a lightbulb for a room and the box is labelled “warm” or “cool”. You can see a big difference between those two types of light.

Take the wrong white balance to an extreme and we end up with a colour cast. That means the whole photo seems off-colour and unrealistic. Everything is orange or purple and weird.

Roller derby photo with orange colour cast. Reasons to shoot monochrome part 4 on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

Roller Derby photo colour corrected from RAW. Reasons to shoot monochrome part 4 on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

Roller derby photo in monochrome. Reasons to shoot black and white on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

Film versus digital RAW 

There are other ways of getting a colour cast. It used to be a common problem in the days of film photography. It could happen when a print had aged in the sun, or when a film has been processed in the wrong bath of chemicals. Putting the right kind of filter on a lens would affect white balance too. That might give a colour cast if it’s the wrong filter for the conditions. There are yet more routes to achieve a colour cast but you get the idea.

Enough of the history lesson! One of the great things about digital photography is the option to shoot RAW images. From RAW, you can correct the white balance when you edit the digital file. However there are limits even to this, which brings me to today’s featured photos.

Colour Cast – the shorter version

Some places are just too badly lit for anyone to get a decent colour shot. No white balance adjustment can save it. If an orange room is bathed in orange light you will get orange photos; End of.

Roller derby photo with orange colour cast. Reasons to shoot monochrome part 4 on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.That’s what was going on when I went to take photos of a Roller Derby practice session. My camera club was invited by the local Roller Derby team. We wanted to practice our movement photography and some flash-blur styling.

You guessed it: The Roller Derby practice was in an orange room with dim orange lights. I won’t list all the different things we tried to do to deal with this as that’s probably a whole other 900 word blog post. Once I got my photos on the computer I tried some editing tricks in both Lightroom and Photoshop to get rid of the colour cast. I did manage to achieve true colours for skin and white fabric with a lot of trickery. Some of the tricks I used are described in this fstoppers article.

This photo was a pretty good save through editing and doesn’t look too bad in colour, but most shots had bigger problems.
Roller Derby photo colour corrected from RAW. Reasons to shoot monochrome part 4 on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

Roller derby photo in monochrome. Reasons to shoot black and white on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

Choosing Black and White

However they are still orange photos thanks to the room colour and lighting. That is why I turned most of them black and white. I found the orange too overwhelming, and black and white photos are always quite stylish. That was my reason this time for choosing monochrome.

I’ve had use black and white to fix a colour cast on one other memorable occasion. I was second-shooting a wedding. It was my job to take the audience reaction shots during the speeches, but they dimmed the lights in a very green room. Everybody looked quite bilious in the photos. Luckily much like these sports photos above, candid portraits also look like they belong in a newspaper and therefore seem quite natural in black and white.

Have you ever turned a photo black and white because of problems with a colour cast? Let me know in the comments.

Roller derby photo in monochrome. Reasons to shoot black and white on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

Roller derby photo in monochrome. Reasons to shoot black and white on Falcondale Life blog. What is a colour cast and how is it related to white balance? How do I get rid of a colour cast from a photograph? After fixing the RAW photo in editing, sometimes a really strong colour cast will still look bad, so switching to black and white might be a fair solution.

with thanks to Spa Town Roller Derby

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16 Comments

  1. 3rd April 2018 / 9:30 pm

    I am a complete amateur when it comes to photography but I really need to get my camera out and experiment more. I love how much more effective these b&w images are – they look fabulous!

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:05 pm

      It’s a great way to transform a photo, do try it.

  2. 3rd April 2018 / 8:13 pm

    Wow, this is so interesting, I’m such a beginner when it comes to photo editing, I’ve learned loads from reading this 🙂

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:05 pm

      That’s great! Try reading the rest of the series for more ideas.

  3. 3rd April 2018 / 3:39 pm

    Totally agree on this one, works so well for shots like this

    Thank you for linking up to #MySundayPhoto

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:06 pm

      It does. Orange is my least favourite colour cast!

  4. 3rd April 2018 / 7:44 am

    This is really interesting, I do love the photos in black and white. I really need to start spending more time editing my photos, rather than condemning them to the bin!

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:06 pm

      Oh totally – if they’re not far off a good exposure then there’s lots you can do.

  5. 3rd April 2018 / 7:17 am

    I am a complete amateur when it comes to anything to do with photography! Although I have always wanted to learn! I can’t believe the differences in the images. They look great black and white! x

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:07 pm

      It’s a great thing to learn, and get more enjoyment from. I hope you give it a go.

  6. 2nd April 2018 / 9:56 pm

    I’m a complete amateur when it comes to images, I can’t believe how different these look! Is this Roller Derby? I really want to join a squad but struggle to get to any close by!

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:08 pm

      Yes it looks such fun. Maybe you’ll have to start your own team!

  7. 2nd April 2018 / 11:51 am

    This was good to read. I always shoot in raw when using my SLR. Although my dad has borrowed my battery charger atm and my battery dead lol

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:08 pm

      So much you can do with RAW images. I hope you get your charger back soon!

  8. 2nd April 2018 / 10:31 am

    I’m an amateur when it comes to taking photos so this was good to read. I have alot to learn!!

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Well I hope you experiment with black and white after this and see if you like it!

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