Using the average blur filter to easily correct color casts using photoshop

Remove Color Casts using Photoshop

One of the most frustrating things about being a beginner photographer is having people talk to you about a subject as though it’s the most obvious thing in the world. At the very beginning of this hugely beautiful journey that is photography, one such subject for me was correcting color casts. I mean, my teachers and classmates would take a look at my pictures and say something annoying like “there’s a lot of blue in that picture” or “whoa, you need to correct the yellow in that thing”. As frustrating as hearing that was, I don’t even think that’s what irritated me the most. What really did it, was that no matter how long or how hard I stared at my images, I could never see a color cast. As a matter of fact, one year later, unless a photograph is so obviously blue (or any other color) that the people in my pictures look like a Smurfs, I still can’t really tell the dominant color of a photograph. Enter the Photoshop average blur filter. I discovered this beauty a couple weeks ago, and thought I’d share this incredibly easy way to correct color with you all.

How it works
Imagine making a smoothie and putting a bunch of fruits and vegetables into the blender. If you were to mostly add strawberries, your smoothie would be predominantly red. On the other hand if you threw in mostly kale, you would end up with a greenish type of drink, right? Well, you can think of the average blur tool as Photoshop’s blender. It essentially works by taking all of the colors in your image “mixing them up” and leaving you to see the average color of your picture. In other words, once you pass the filter, your image will disappear and be replaced by whatever color there is a lot of. This color that is now on top of your image makes up the majority of the color in your picture. This is the color that you want to correct or balance out.

Let’s look at an example

Step One: Open your image Photoshop
So, the first step is opening your image in Photoshop. Before I make any adjustments on the image, I would like to correct any color casts that there are.

Step Two: Duplicate your background layer
Next, you want to duplicate your background layer. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+j on your pc or Command + J on your mac (Ctrl+J/⌘-J). You can also duplicate the layer by clicking on the Layer tab and selecting duplicate layer (Layer→Duplicate Layer).

Easy Color Correction Tutorial

Step Three: Apply the average blur filter
Do this by going to the Filter tab, highlighting blur, and clicking on average. Filter→Blur→Average. Don’t be scared by what happens next! It’s completely normal for your image to disappear under a dull-colored blob.

Color Correction Tutorial

Easy Color Correction Tutorial

Step Four: Invert the blur layer and set the blending mode to color
You can use the shortcut Ctrl + I on your PC or Command + I on your mac (Ctrl+I/⌘-I). What this does is fill the image with the dominant color’s opposite. At this point, you’ll alos want to change your layer’s blending mode from normal to color. Your image should reappear.

Easy Color Correction Tutorial

Easy Color Correction Tutorial

Step Five: Reduce the blur layer’s opacity until you are satisfied with how things look
Use your opacity slider (found in the layer’s panel) to lower the effect. Theoretically, at 50% the color should look right. However, I’ve found that I typically have to go lower (really low) to get something that looks appealing to me, but like I said, I have a hard time seeing color. Personally, I like the warmth of the before picture, (and honestly, this isn’t the best picture I could use because the difference is so subtle) but at least now you can easily determine the dominant color of each picture. Use your judgement.

Easy Color Correction Tutorial

Ok, so let’s go over the steps to quickly and easily correcting color casts
♥ Open your image
♥ Add a duplicate layer
♥ Add an average blur filter
♥ Invert the layer
♥ Change the blending mode from normal to color
♥ Lower the opacity until you are happy with the results
And voila! Your image has now been easily and quickly corrected for color casts. Do you know another quick way to correct color casts in a picture? Let me know.

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