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Removing blue cast and bring out color

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  • Removing blue cast and bring out color

    Hi all,

    Here’s my problem. I recently went on a scuba diving trip and took a whole bunch of underwater photos. (With a Cannon Powershot S50 in the underwater case). Anyway being my first attempt at underwater photography, my photos didn’t turn out so well, but I’m trying to salvage some of them. What I learned is that unless you get really close to the object your photographing (like within 12 inches) all the color gets washed out by the water and you basically end up with a blue hazy photo. (Now I know for my next trip )

    So I’m looking for a recipe to reduce some of the blue haze. I tried playing around with the color balancer but was not getting very good results.

    Any ideas?


    Attached Files

  • #2

    I used "by the numbers" to correct this in PhotoShop. Don't know that I brought up color 'cause there isn't much color, other than blue and black in this photo, but it did remove a lot of the murkiness.

    (Be sure to set your eyedropper tool to 3x3 average before you do thi. Also, concentrate on the focal point of the photo and don't worry too much about edge areas)

    1. Threshold Adjustment Layer. Slide slider all the way left then slowly back to the right until a few black pixels start appearing. SHIFT click with the eyedropper tool on a black area. Slide the slider all the way to the right then slowly back to the left until white pixels start to appear. SHIFT click on white pixels. You now have two markers 1 = black, 2=white. Say okay and delete the Adjustment layer.

    2. Duplicate the background layer and set the blend mode to EXCLUSION. Again do a Threshold Adjustment layer. Slide the slider all the way to the left then slowly back to the right and do the SHIFT click thing on the first pixels that appear. These are your grays. Say okay and delete both your Adjustment layer and Background Copy.

    3 Now you are left with just your background layer. Add a CURVES adjustment layer and click the black eyedropper tool on Marker 1 (blacks), the white eyedropper on Marker 2, and the gray eyedropper tool on Marker Three. Click Okay and see if you have a clearer, more color balanced picture.

    You can set up an action to do much of this for you.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Blue Cast

      Hi Sandra,
      I find LAB is one of the best spaces to use to eliminate heavy casts. I moved the images into LAB. I targeted the sand which I felt would be a lot closer to neutral than it is to blue. Then I used a curve to move both the A and B channels toward 0 in the sand area. I then guessed at what the original scene colors were but you can shift the A and B channels either way after setting the neutral point to move the colors in the right direction. I adjusted the contrast a little in the L channel particularly the fish which needed a boost. Then finally applied a little sharpening to the L channel.
      I have to run to mtg now but if you need some more detailed info, I can add some later.
      Regards, Murray
      Attached Files
      Last edited by mistermonday; 02-21-2006, 09:42 PM.


      • #4
        Been a while since I used it, but Adobe Studio exchange has a free downloadable plugin for under water correction. See On th right under "highest rated" is an underwater correction. Hope this helps.


        • #5
          the one listed on that page is an action. however, there is a plugin. in the adobe photoshop pull down menu, pick 'plugins' and go there. you'll find the plugin somewhere within those pages. for now, it's listed on the first page. that may change as other plugins get listed.



          • #6
            filter vs. action test

            I did a little test with the action vs. the filter. I think the action works a little better the filter seems to be rather red.

            The action would be easier to tweak too.

            Both remove most of the colors (not just the blue) that's in the picture, but without the blue cast I can enhance/replace the color in the coral and grass areas if I want. A much better starting point.

            Any other big ideas for removing blue possibly using adjustment layers. Or is that just wishful thinking.

            Thanks for the advice.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              I did a match color/neutralize and move the slider over to fade it...then curves to up the contrast and USM. Looks like a fierce fish! Cheers--

              Attached Files


              • #8
                Had a quick play with your image.

                Red light is what is mostly filtered out with underwater shots. To replace it, I copied the green channel and pasted it to the red.

                Then a levels adjustment layer. Move sliders to ends of histogram in each channel (R, G, B).

                Not perfect, but gives you a good starting point quickly (took about 1 min).
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Retouching Challange #41

                  Take a look at (CLICK HERE ) A retouching problem with a similar problem. Note how many corrected the image for red channel loss.


                  • #10
                    Outta the blue ..

                    With PSCS2, used Image/Adjustments/Match Color/Neutralize, curves in LAB mode for contrast and Paint With Light action to enhance the colors.
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      So I’m looking for a recipe to reduce some of the blue haze.
                      the recipe here is fairly simple, color balance or channel mixer followed by contrast/brightness. i used color balance. i just find it easier to work with. this tended to darken the image a bit, so i followed it up with contrast/brightness.

                      i'm not posting my rendition. you took the pictures. you were there. so, only you know what they truly shld look like. anyone that's never been diving has a tendency to over-correct for the blue. i've been diving in southeast asia and hawaii, but that was a long while ago. and waters differ. also, the camera lies at times, especially underwater. the next time you go, try some color filters on the lens. a proper filter can correct some of what you're running into. ever watch a documentary on PBS or the National Geographic channel and ever notice the clarity of their images? filters and lighting!

                      if you work with the color balance tool, start with the shadows and cut the blue in half. do the same with the midtones and highlights. then, go back to shadows and increase the red by about 50% and do the same on the midtones and highlights. from there you'll have to tweak to taste. i found a bit too much green still and corrected some for that, but like i said earlier, you took the pictures, so you'll have the best idea of how to proceed from there. and, even with the 'preserve luminosity' turned on, you'll find the image still wants to go dark, particularly when you adjust the green downwards and that's why i followed with a contrast/brightness layer.



                      • #12

                        You guys are amazing. Thanks so much for you help. I think I can figure it out from here. Thanks again!!


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