St. Patrick’s Day is here, so be sure to sport some green clothing to keep from getting pinched. Be sure to drink some green beer, and if you’re in Chicago, go downtown and watch them dye the river green. It’s the one day of the year when everything green is good. Except for one thing: the green shift produced by many inexpensive fluorescent and LED lights.
That so-called “green spike” is quite unattractive on human skin, in particular. But, sometimes, we’re forced to shoot with lighting that causes it—like some fluorescents and LEDs—or we’re simply photographing under daylight that’s reflecting off of green grass and foliage. Here are two great ways to fix issues with lighting that looks too green.
1. Gel The Lights
The type of fluorescent tubes most often used in office buildings, classrooms and homes aren’t built to the same rigorous specs as a fluorescent or LED light designed for photo and video. That means they flicker more visibly and their CRI (color rendering index) isn’t as precise, causing an unfortunate green spike. To counteract this, the ideal approach would be to replace the fluorescent tubes or LEDs with those made for photography.
But, when that’s impractical, try gelling the fixture with a minus-green gel. Available in eighth, quarter, half and whole opacities, these magenta-ish gels minimize the green spike and make for more appropriate skin tones. In most cases, a quarter gel is plenty, and rarely will a full minus green be necessary. If your green cast isn’t caused by your light source but rather reflected from your surroundings, you’ll have to try repairing it on the computer.
2. Improve It In Post
Lightroom offers a great set of tools to simply and easily modify the color balance and saturation of an image, including the ability to fine-tune specific colors—like greens in skin. To access these tools, look for the HSL/Color heading in the Develop module. Click Color to access specific color controls and then click on the Green thumbnail to isolate the green tones in the image. From here, use the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders to modify the quality of the greens in the image. Hue shifts from a yellowy green to a more aqua green, and saturation makes the color more vibrant or subdued. Luminance helps shift between a pastel, light quality to the green or a deep, rich, dark green like the shadows of grass and foliage.
With subtle adjustments to each of these sliders, not only can the green in the skin tones be dialed back, but what green remains can be shaped to a more flattering tone. Beware, of course, that adjusting green in this way won’t solely impact the skin. Other elements in the scene—from leaves and plants to the trim on a house or the green in clothing—will be impacted too. A little bit of work here, simple as it may be, goes a long way to producing more pleasing skin tones and minimizing the dreaded green spike.