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I have this photo where part of it is funnily colour imbalanced. I took some product shots under couple of 5500K lights. Part of the product was navy blue and it is appearing as black in the raw files.

I could bring this back to navy blue by just turning the colour temperature slider down a little bit in Lightroom, but this imbalances the rest of the products and the entire image because they are completely colour corrected.

Can someone explain why a partial image might have an out of whack colour temperature and rest of the image is fine? I always make sure the colour balance in the camera is set correctly.

Also for now, I have used the adjustment brush to colour correct part of the image but I am more interested in to why this actually happened and if there is any in-camera or lighting solution to this.

image

  • Was there any other type of lighting in play? I've seen similar before when using flash and it mixing with ambient incandescent lights, where the flash fell with the WB set to flash, it was fine, but where the flash started to give way to ambient, there was a colour cast. Using gel filters on the flash to balance it with the ambient light helps. – steoleary May 15 at 9:54
  • Related: Setting the right white balance value – Michael C May 15 at 10:04
  • Is your workflow color-calibrated? – Blrfl May 16 at 12:38
  • @xiota Apologies, it took me some time as I had to get permission from the client for this. imgur.com/a/7FfePMj It's the navy blue hat (appearing black in this image) towards bottom right of the image. btw this is just a draft jpeg. I also have the raw file if you are are interested. For now, I have just a brush to set the navy blue cloth's temperature separately and it's perfect. But this would have been a pain if there were large number of photos! – Emma May 16 at 14:08
  • @steoleary That's a good point but I always make sure that there is no light seeping through the windows or any other light source because I have had the same experience as yours in the past. – Emma May 16 at 14:11
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There may have been CRI issues. The lights are slightly yellowish, so have a relative deficit of blue. Since the hat is already dark, it doesn't reflect as much blue as you would have liked.

Your white balance may also have been off just enough to affect the appearance of the hat. Objects reflect and absorb light, so the lighting in the scene isn't quite the same as before objects were added. Try setting up the scene first. Then set custom white balance with the white reference placed directly over the hat.

Camera color profiles may have affect the appearance of the image. Some related questions:

For post processing, my approach was slightly different from yours. It might be easier than using an adjustment brush. I adjusted levels globally with color layer blending. Other colors in the scene were affected, but possibly by an acceptable amount.

image

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Take a look at this question: Do I always get the same colours when I set the white balance correctly?

Some cameras have different sensitivities to colors, and to tones.

Some light has different wavelengths, and make "white" with different combinations of them.

in-camera or lighting solution to this.

Yes and no. It is a process. On the lighting side, make sure your lights have a good color rendition index. CRI. Most flashes do, but most LED lights do not. If you are using LEDs, look for a CRI above 90; 95 is a nice number.

But as I explained in the other answer you need to color calibrate the process.

That is why you need a color reference chart, to make a color profile of your camera+lens+LightSituation.


One thing I recommend is making the white balance based on the source light, especially if you are only using one big softbox. Color issue: studio images have a pink hue Measuring your source light gives you an exact color balance.

Sometimes your white paper is not white. Try different types of paper to find the whites one.

After doing this search, only then, use the white paper as white balance as the last resource.


One additional thing. Color temperature is not the only issue, it only affects the color in one axis, and remember that color, in general, is a 3Dimensional space, not a linear one.

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This is probably to do with the relationship of your shutter speed to the frequency of the AC electrical supply to the lights.

See this article for a detailed explanation.

Essentially, if you can have your shutter open for at least the length of the AC cycle (eg 60Hz = 1/60 sec), you should be able mitigate the problem.

I've experienced exactly the same issue shooting gymnastics competitions under fluorescent lighting, and it's very difficult to strike a balance between freezing the action and dealing with changing colour temperature across the frame.

Given that you're shooting product shots (presumably on a tripod), it's probably easier for you to work around the issue than in my scenario.

You will still want to shoot raw so that you can consistently apply white balance correction across your different images.

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    The scenario you describe tropically have a banding pattern. OP describes the "entire image" being color corrected except for the navy blue. – xiota May 16 at 0:40
  • Wow, this is so interesting. I never knew that the frequency of AC could affect the photo! Thank you for attaching that article. Apologies, it took me some time as I had to get permission from the client for this. imgur.com/a/7FfePMj It's the navy blue hat (appearing black in this image) towards bottom right of the image. btw this is just a draft jpeg. I also have the raw file if you are are interested. For now, I have just a brush to set the navy blue cloth's temperature separately and it's perfect. But this would have been a pain if there were large number of photos! – Emma May 16 at 14:13
  • Lot of folks on other forums have told me that it's possibly the CRI of the light source. I am just using cheap bulbs like these amazon.co.uk/5500K-Photo-Studio-Photography-Daylight/dp/… either fitted in a softbox or umbrella depending upon when and where I need it. Now these bulbs don't even have CRI mentioned under their product details – Emma May 16 at 14:16
  • I remember looking into buying lights a year and half ago and saw these expensive 300 quid and even a grand! But was never sure why I needed them when a soft box with a bulb like above was doing the job in less than 100 quid but I can see now why! I probably was misguided by an article where I read that CRI doesnt matter much unless you are doing really high end photography. I will see if I can find that piece. – Emma May 16 at 14:16
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    The flickering lights problem has plenty of Q&A describing it. It's up to you if you want to leave your answer. It's probably better to edit to correct it. You can also wait till it gets -3 votes, then delete it for the peer pressure badge. – xiota May 20 at 0:53

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