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How to Remove The Yellow Tint in a Picture

Before & After Photos

Taking the yellow tint created by fluorescent lighting out of your photos

Taking the yellow tint created by fluorescent lighting out of your photos

CMYK Is For Print & RGB is For Web

Fluorescent lighting – it can be a photographers worst enemy. There are several reasons that fluorescent lighting can be a bad situation for photographers, but one of the most common is the lovely yellow tint that it leaves over the entire photograph. Of course I am using “lovely” with the most amount of sarcasm possible. No matter how you much you tweak the white balance or use fill flash, there will always be some amount of yellow in the photographs.

The good news is that this is a very easy fix, and not only easy, but it is also very quick as well. I am using Adobe Photoshop CS4 for this tutorial, but these options are available in any version of the software.

Open the image that you want to correct the color in Adobe Photoshop. Normally by default images are downloaded to your computer as RGB, which is the format used for any online use, home printer usage or when you have photos printed. CMYK is used for anything print at a press because they work with 4 separate plates: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Although you never want to use CMYK for anything other than the printers that I mentioned earlier, it is an excellent tool when correcting color in your photographs.

Focus on the exposure and amount of lighting

There are some situations and events that you cannot control the lighting or the product placement. In this photo that I am using there was several overhead fluorescent lights with booth lights placed around the products. Although I always try to get the right lighting and color in the original photo through the settings within the camera, there are times that you need to focus on shooting a photo that you can successfully process in a digital darkroom. Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to compensate as much as you so that you can still deliver a great photograph.

Once you open your photograph in Adobe Photoshop you need to decide if overall the photo is too dark. If it is too dark you can alter the “curves” of the photo. To do this go to “image” → “adjustments” and choose “curves”. From there you can pull the line to adjust the color and lighting. Start at the middle of the line and pull from the center – this will only lighten / darken the photo depending on which way you pull equally without changing the color in the photo. When you lighten this photo do not try to take out any yellow, the next steps will take care of this for you.

Using Curves You Can Adjust The Overall Brightness


Once you have the photo at the correct exposure, the next step will be to change your color mode to CMYK. Don't worry, you will not be leaving the photo this mode (unless of course you are sending it to be printed at a professional printer).

Change The Color Mode To CMYK To Adjust the Yellow


Go to “image” → “mode” and choose “CMYK”. You may get a prompt asking you to change the color profile – go ahead and allow it to change. Now this is the part where you will reduce the yellow in your image but make sure that you pay attention to the other colors and how they change as you manipulate.

Select The Yellow Channel in Curves

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Adjust The Yellow Channel Curve

Once again you will choose to edit the color curves in your photo by going to “image” → “adjustments” and choosing “curves”. Instead of manipulating all of the colors, you are going to choose the yellow channel. This will allow you to reduce only the yellows in your image. Start at the middle of the line and pull the curve out until you have reduced the yellow haze to your liking.


You can choose the Black (K) curve in the channel box and from there increase just the black in the image. This will create more contrast in your image without making everything in the photograph darker.

Adjust The Black Channel in Curves


Once you are happy with the results of the image, you need to change the color mode back to RGB.


TrahnTheMan from Asia, Oceania & between on September 16, 2012:

Hey dapple designs- thanks for the tutorial. The screen shots showing the photoshop curves was very helpful!

dappledesigns (author) from In Limbo between New England and the Midwest on July 31, 2012:

I'm so glad you found this useful and thank you for the vote up!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on April 02, 2012:

An excellent, useful and easy to follow tutorial thank you and voted up.

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