Managing Color Inconsistencies in Photography Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Why color inconsistencies occur
  2. How to spot color inconsistencies
  3. Tips for correcting color balance
  4. How to use color matching tools
  5. Dealing with color shifts in variable lighting
  6. How to ensure consistent color in post-production
  7. Using color calibration tools for accuracy
  8. How to handle color inconsistencies in black and white photography
  9. Tips for managing color inconsistencies in product photography
  10. How to avoid common mistakes that cause color inconsistencies

In the realm of photography, color can be as much of a friend as it is a foe. One of the most common challenges photographers face is dealing with color inconsistencies in photography. It's like trying to catch a butterfly – it looks simple, but it can be surprisingly tricky! But don't worry, with a bit of knowledge and the right approach, you can manage these inconsistencies effectively.

Why color inconsistencies occur

Before diving into the how-tos of color management, it's important to understand why color inconsistencies occur in the first place. There are several factors at play, and they can all impact the final color output of your images:

  • Lighting conditions: The quality, intensity, and color of light can greatly affect the colors in your photos. For instance, natural light at sunrise or sunset tends to give photos a warm, golden hue, while fluorescent lighting can make colors look cooler or bluer.
  • Camera settings: Things like white balance, saturation, and contrast settings on your camera can all influence the colors in your images. If these settings are not adjusted properly, they can cause color inconsistencies.
  • Post-production editing: Editing software, like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, can also introduce color inconsistencies. This can happen if you're not consistent with your editing process or if your computer monitor isn't calibrated correctly.
  • Printing process: Finally, the printing process itself can result in color inconsistencies. Different printers and types of paper can produce different color outputs. Even the ink used in the printer can affect the colors in your prints.

So, dealing with color inconsistencies in photography is not just about the actual shooting. It's a multi-step process that begins with understanding your equipment and lighting conditions, and ends with the final print. But don't fret – mastering this process is a lot easier than you might think. Stick around and you'll see!

How to spot color inconsistencies

Now that we know why color inconsistencies can occur, the next step is learning how to spot them. It's like playing a game of 'find the difference'—fun, right? Let's get started.

First off, you need to train your eye to notice subtle differences in color. This may sound difficult, but with practice, it gets easier. Here are some tell-tale signs of color inconsistencies:

  • Varying shades of the same color: If you notice that the same color appears different in various parts of your image, this is a sign of color inconsistency. For example, a blue sky that looks slightly purple in one corner.
  • Color casts: These are unwanted tints that affect the overall color of your image. If your image appears overly yellow, blue, green, or any other color, you might be dealing with a color cast.
  • Unnatural skin tones: This is especially important in portrait photography. If skin tones appear too orange, too pink, or otherwise unnatural, this indicates a color inconsistency.

A great tool to help you spot color inconsistencies is the histogram on your camera or editing software. A histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values in your image. If the graph is skewed to one side, it might mean there's a color cast in your image.

Another handy tool is the color picker or eyedropper tool in your editing software. This tool lets you select a color from your image and see its exact color values. If these values are not what you expect, you're dealing with color inconsistencies in photography.

Remember, the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing there is one. So, don't rush this process. Take your time, and really get to know the colors in your image.

Tips for correcting color balance

Alright, we've spotted the color inconsistencies. What's next? Now, it's time to correct them. Here are some practical steps you can take to improve color balance in your photos:

  1. Adjust the white balance: If your images have a color cast, adjusting the white balance can help. Many cameras allow you to manually set the white balance, but if not, you can also adjust it in post-production. Just be careful not to overdo it—too much correction can make your photo look unnatural.
  2. Use a color correction filter: This is a tool that you can find in most photo editing software. It allows you to adjust the colors in your image individually, giving you more control over the final result.
  3. Try color grading: Color grading is a more advanced technique that involves altering and enhancing the color of your image. It can help you create a certain mood or look in your photos, and it's also useful for dealing with color inconsistencies in photography.
  4. Consider a reference photo: If you're not sure what colors should look like, use a reference photo. This could be a photo you've taken under similar lighting conditions, or a professionally edited photo with colors you like. Compare your photo to the reference and make adjustments until you're happy with the result.

Remember, the goal is not to create a perfectly balanced, color-by-numbers image. It's about making sure the colors in your photo look natural and consistent. As with many things in photography, it's often a case of trial and error. So, don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you.

How to use color matching tools

Now let's switch gears and chat about color matching tools. These are your best friends when it comes to dealing with color inconsistencies in photography. Here's how to use them effectively:

  1. Explore your photo editing software: Tools like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop have built-in color matching features. They are designed to analyze the colors in an image and match them to a target color. This is particularly helpful when you're trying to achieve consistency across a series of photos.
  2. Get to know the color wheel: The color wheel is a basic tool for understanding and manipulating color. It shows the relationship between colors and helps you make choices that enhance, rather than conflict with, your image.
  3. Master the art of the eyedropper: The color matching process often involves the eyedropper tool. This tool allows you to select a specific color from your image and use that color for corrections. It's like having a color detective at your fingertips.
  4. Embrace color charts: Color charts are a more advanced tool for color matching. A color chart is a physical object that you photograph along with your subject. It contains a range of colors that you can use as a reference when editing. It's a bit like a roadmap for color correction.

Keep in mind that color matching tools are just that—tools. They're there to assist you, but they won't do all the work for you. Good color matching requires a keen eye and a bit of patience. But with practice, you'll get the hang of it, and dealing with color inconsistencies in photography will become second nature.

Dealing with color shifts in variable lighting

Let's address the elephant in the room—dealing with color shifts in variable lighting. It's a common issue that many photographers face and can make managing color inconsistencies in photography a bit tricky. But don't worry, we've got some tips to handle this:

  1. Understand color temperature: Every light source has a color temperature, measured in Kelvin. Natural sunlight is around 5000-5500K and produces a balanced, neutral light. But as the light changes—say, at dawn or dusk—the color temperature shifts, and this can affect your photos. Being aware of this helps you anticipate and manage color shifts.
  2. Adjust your white balance: Most cameras have a white balance setting that you can adjust to accommodate for different lighting conditions. This is your go-to tool when dealing with variable lighting. Learn to use it effectively, and you'll be one step closer to taming those pesky color inconsistencies.
  3. Shoot in RAW: Unlike JPEGs, RAW files capture all the data from your camera sensor, giving you much more flexibility when it comes to editing. If you're dealing with color shifts, shooting in RAW can be a game-changer.
  4. Use graduated filters: Graduated filters are a great tool for dealing with variable lighting, especially in landscape photography. They can help balance the exposure and color in different parts of your image.

Remember, variable lighting isn't an obstacle—it's an opportunity. With a bit of know-how and some practice, you can turn this challenge into a chance to create some truly stunning photos.

How to ensure consistent color in post-production

Here we are at the post-production stage. This is where dealing with color inconsistencies in photography can really get interesting. It's like being a chef—combining ingredients, stirring the pot, and voila! You've got a delicious meal... or in this case, a stunning photograph. Let's dive into some tips:

  1. Use a good editing software: Programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are go-to options for most photographers when it comes to post-production. Using such software, you can adjust colors, balance, and tones to your heart's content.
  2. Edit in a well-lit environment: This might sound obvious, but it's something we often overlook. The lighting in the room where you edit your photos can impact how you perceive colors on your screen. A well-lit, neutral-colored environment is ideal.
  3. Be consistent with your edits: If you're editing a batch of photos taken under similar conditions, try to maintain consistent adjustments across all of them. This will prevent color inconsistencies and make your series of photos look more cohesive.
  4. Consider using presets: Presets are like filters—they apply a set of predetermined adjustments to your photos. If you find a preset that works well with your style and the lighting conditions of your photos, it can help ensure color consistency. However, remember that presets aren't a one-size-fits-all solution—each photo may still need individual tweaks.

In post-production, you have the power to bend colors to your will. With the right tools and a bit of practice, you'll be managing color inconsistencies like a pro in no time!

Using color calibration tools for accuracy

Now let's talk about the unsung heroes of dealing with color inconsistencies in photography—color calibration tools. These gadgets might not get the limelight, but they sure can save the day when it comes to color accuracy.

  1. Monitor Calibration Tools: If you've ever edited a photo on your computer, then looked at it on your phone and thought, "This doesn't look right," you've faced the challenges of color calibration. Tools like the X-Rite i1Display Pro or Datacolor SpyderX Pro can help calibrate your monitor, so colors display accurately.
  2. Camera Calibration Tools: Yes, even your camera needs some calibration love. Tools like the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport can help balance colors in-camera, reducing the amount of color adjustment needed in post-production.
  3. Printer Calibration Tools: If you print your photos, printer calibration is a must. Printer calibration tools ensure the colors you see on your monitor match those in your prints. The X-Rite i1Studio is a popular choice for this task.

Using color calibration tools might seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it's worth it. I like to think of it as giving your photos a solid foundation—you wouldn't build a house without laying a good foundation first, right? The same goes for your photos. With accurate colors from the start, you'll spend less time fixing issues in post-production. So, why not give color calibration tools a try?

How to handle color inconsistencies in black and white photography

Did you think that dealing with color inconsistencies in photography was a color-only issue? Well, guess again. Even when it comes to black and white photography, color inconsistencies can pop up—just in a different way.

When you're working with black and white images, it's all about the tonal range—the scale from pure white to pure black. And sometimes, those tones can be inconsistent. Let's see how to handle this:

  1. Shooting in RAW: Always shoot in RAW. This format captures more tonal detail than JPEGs, providing more control over the grays, blacks, and whites in your image.
  2. Check your Histogram: Your camera's histogram is a powerful tool. It can show you if your image has a good tonal range or if it's leaning too much towards the shadows or highlights.
  3. Post-Production: Programs like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop have sliders to adjust the blacks, whites, shadows, and highlights. These controls can help you fine-tune the tonal range in your black and white images.

Remember, in black and white photography, contrast is your best friend. Playing with light and dark can add drama and depth to your images. So, don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for your style.

Tips for managing color inconsistencies in product photography

Product photography is a unique beast when it comes to dealing with color inconsistencies in photography. Your goal here is to represent the product as accurately as possible. Inaccurate colors can mislead consumers and lead to poor customer reviews. So, let's look at some straightforward tips to manage this task:

  1. Understand Your Lighting: Different types of light sources can drastically affect the colors in your photo. Natural light, fluorescent light, and incandescent light all have different color temperatures. Knowing this can help you adjust your camera settings accordingly.
  2. Invest in a Good Quality Lightbox: A lightbox is an enclosed space with diffused lighting on every side. This helps eliminate shadows and provides a clean, consistent environment for your product photos.
  3. Use a Gray Card: A gray card is a middle gray reference that can help you set the correct white balance in your camera. It ensures the colors in your photo are accurate and consistent.
  4. Post-Production: Tools like Adobe Lightroom can help you fine-tune the colors in your images. You can adjust the color balance, saturation, and vibrance to make sure the product colors match the real-life product.

Remember, consistency is key in product photography. So, take your time, pay attention to the details, and don't rush the process. Your customers—and your reputation—will thank you for it!

How to avoid common mistakes that cause color inconsistencies

When dealing with color inconsistencies in photography, some common mistakes can make the challenge even more daunting. But don't worry, once you're aware of these pitfalls, you can easily avoid them.

  1. Ignoring White Balance: Neglecting to set the correct white balance in your camera can cause unwanted color casts in your images. Make sure to adjust your white balance according to the lighting conditions.
  2. Not Calibrating Your Monitor: If your computer monitor isn't calibrated correctly, the colors you see when editing may not reflect the true colors in your photos. Investing in a good monitor calibration tool can save you a lot of headaches down the line.
  3. Overlooking The Impact of Different Surfaces: Different surfaces can reflect light differently, causing color shifts in your photos. Be aware of the surface you're shooting on and adjust accordingly.
  4. Excessive Post-Production: Overdoing it with color adjustments during post-production can lead to unrealistic and inconsistent colors. Remember, less is often more when it comes to color correction.

By avoiding these mistakes, dealing with color inconsistencies in photography becomes a much more manageable task. Always remember: a little bit of preparation goes a long way!

If you're looking to further improve your skills in managing color inconsistencies in photography, don't miss the 'How To Photograph & Retouch Bright Colours' workshop by Laurence Philomene. This workshop will teach you how to capture and edit vibrant colors in your photography, helping you create visually stunning and consistent images.