One of the most frustrating hurdles we deal with when shooting indoors is the strong color cast that incandescent light emits. I'm going to share with you a quick and easy fix in Lightroom (or Photoshop) to remedy that dreaded "orange glow" when white balance isn't enough.
One of my earliest memories of running into this photographic issue was back in 2003. My stepfather had purchased a point-and-shoot camera and was annoyed with the over-warm color tones plaguing his indoor images. He did what every adult does who is frustrated with technology: handed it to a youngster and asked for help.
Sixteen years later, I find myself constantly dealing with the issue of incandescent lighting casting garish color casts on much of my indoor event and real estate photography.
Incandescent lighting is warm for several reasons, none of which are important to photography (though they do look nice on skin if they're subtle). Unfortunately, some indoor spaces have very strong warm lighting which can be difficult to process in editing later on.
Approaching with Color in Mind
Using a mounted speedlight flash on your camera can neutralize some of the red-orange cast of lighting, but this presents two problems. First, it makes you less conspicuous when sneaking around to take candid photos. Second, it creates two different color casts to work with in post-processing. Therefore moderate fill flash is often the best option if you're going this route.
For images with particularly warm light, you may need to dial a warm color channel back down slightly after adjusting white balance.
HSL/Color to the Rescue
In the HSL/Color panel, dial the orange down however much you need for the scene to look natural. Your sliders will look something like below.
The image below is an extreme example of how white balance simply wasn't enough. Notice the white bowl in the back is somewhat balanced in temperature (even a bit cool) yet the food is unnaturally warm looking.
These steps work in Lightroom as well as Photoshop.
Again, this trick is to be done after white balance has been correctly applied and you find that the orange color cast is still pervasive.
Lightroom is made for batch processing, meaning you can make this adjustment once and apply it to a whole set of (indoor) images. To do so, in the Develop module press Ctrl + C (Command + C on a Mac) to copy the setting on the edited image. Next, select the images you'd like to apply the edit to and right-click > Develop Settings > Paste Settings.
Do you have any backup tricks for dealing with finicky color casts in post-processing? Share them in the comments section below.
Photo by Rohan Makhecha via Unsplash.