Virginia Hamrick Photography » Architectural, Commercial and Portrait Photography

Mitigating color casts caused by lightbulbs in interiors photography

Lightbulbs can create nasty color casts in interiors photography, and without dimmer switches, the bulbs are usually too bright at the source, creating blown-out hotspots in the image.  Dealing with these challenges usually involves both on-location planning (adding studio lighting, shooting the scene with room lights on and off) and then post processing (to blend the captures to achieve the desired result).

Here’s an example where the chandelier caused the white cabinetry to go yellow/orange, and there was no dimmer switch.  I shot the room with the lights turned on for a fraction of the long exposure, and then shot it again with the lights turned off.  In Photoshop, I started with the lights-off layer and blended in the lights-on layer selectively in luminosity blend mode.  Then I duplicated the lights-on layer and changed the blend mode to color, and adjusted the opacity until a bit of warmth was restored to the fixture, but before the cast was overpowering.

Here’s the room with the chandelier light turned on.  Notice the orange/yellow cast on the white cabinetry as well as how bright the bulbs look:


Here’s the room with the chandelier light turned off.   Better than lights on, but the chandelier looks a bit flat and it doesn’t really capture how the room feels when the chandelier is turned on.

Here’s the blended result using the “lights off” exposure as the basis and selectively adding in 2 copies of the “lights on” exposure, one in luminosity blend mode and another in color blend mode.

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