How to Fix Chromatic Aberration in Photoshop - Digital Photography School
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How to Fix Chromatic Aberration in Photoshop

Chromatic Aberration is the bane of digital photographers. It can be seen as a halo or fringe around the edges of an object in a photograph when you photograph it in certain lights – you might see it for example, when you photograph a darker object in front of a bright sky. Some tools like Lightroom have settings that help remove chromatic aberration but sometimes it’s so obvious and so distracting that a bigger fix is required.

Chromic-Aberration-before-after.jpg

In this image (click to enlarge), the statue has a very obvious blue edge to it and not even Lightroom could fix this. The solution is to open the image in Photoshop and to fix it there.

Step 1

Duplicate the background layer by choosing Layer > Duplicate Layer.

Chromic-Aberration-step1.jpg

Step 2

For this image, because the problem area is so distinct and the edges are so crisp, the easiest solution is to make a selection of the portion of the image to fix and then apply a fix to it. Using the Quick Selection tool I made a selection of the sky. Save it as a selection using Select > Save Selection and give it a name.

Chromic-Aberration-step2.jpg

Step 3

Now enlarge it so the selection covers the problem area. I used Select > Modify > Expand and added enough pixels to select over the problem area. How many pixels will be variable – on a high resolution image you’ll need a bigger value than on a low resolution image. I used 30 pixels on this large image.

Chromic-Aberration-step3.jpg

Step 4

Now you need to subtract the first selection you made from this new selection so you end up with just the blue edges selected. To do this, choose Select > Load Selection and select the selection you just saved. Set the Subtract from Selection option and click Ok.

Chromic-Aberration-step4.jpg

Step 5

You now have the blue area selected so click the Add layer mask icon at the foot of the layer palette to add a mask to this layer. This isolates the blue area in the image.

In this case the simplest way to the problem is to desaturate the top layer so the blue disappears. To do this select the top layer, choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and adjust the Saturation down until the blue goes – you can do this on the Master channel or just the Blue and Magenta channels or wherever you find the color problem is residing.

Chromic-Aberration-step5.jpg

You could also fix the problem using a Curves adjustment and select the Blue channel and adjust it. The exact fix is going to depend a lot on what image data that is affected by the color halo – you need to remove or desaturate some of the blue but keep as much of the remaining image data intact and correctly colored as you can.

Step 6

If the edge of the fix is too harsh, you can blur the mask layer by selecting the mask thumbnail and choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur.

Chromic-Aberration-step6.jpg

Read more from our Post Production category.

Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Mattie Shoes

    The “Lens Correction” filter under distortion can also fix CA, though you want to do it before cropping. :-)

  • Mattie Shoes

    An example of using the lens correction filter to correct CA:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattie_shoes/358020545/

  • michael

    Very clever. I never would have thought of it. I use a filter, PTLens, for this but it’s good to know an alternative.

  • http://cs-jenterprise.com Carleton Akana

    Darren, i’m trying to learn more about how to use Photoshop have Element 5. Am a beginner in photography and enjoying all the same. Some of my shots are too large for e-mailing. Was told that the acceptable is 1500 pixels or below. Hope you can help me. Will be upgrading to maybe 7, any suggestions?
    ……………………………………………….message ends…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • Len

    Fantastic idea !!! I Have Been Looking for a faster way to get rid of Chromatic Aberration in Photoshop and you have hit the nail on the head Thank you
    Another added Trick I Have used with this and with out, is to zoom and fine Trace with Polygonal Lasso Tool and then use Bevel and emboss with very low settings but pending on the photo taken?
    Hope this helps more viewers
    Regards Len

  • Judith Natt

    Can you please let us know how to replace a sky in Corel Pain Shop Pro X2 Ultra?

  • http://blogs.adamparkerphotography.com/blogs/ Adam Parker

    Nice tutorial. I have been spoiled by lightroom’s chromatic aberration correction tools. I just put up another example of chromatic aberration http://blogs.adamparkerphotography.com/blog/Chromatic-Aberration/57/ Hope it will help your readers better detect chromatic aberration in their shots and entice them to fix it.

    Thanks for the very educational post. I’m sure it has been a help to a lot of people.

  • Halgas

    i really like this view

  • http://www.pillkauf.eu Rochat

    Hello! I’m new here, glad to read your post!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dadaistic_fantastic s

    I think this is a great technique and will have to try it, thanks for sharing. The de-fringing feature in camera raw and lens distortion filter have not worked well for me in removing chromatic aberrations .

  • http://www.megadownloadking.com Destro

    Hey You site is really good some really intesting posts… Thanks and keep up the good work … Added you to my Bookmarks

  • http://droiduniverse.com/blog/ Mcrea

    Wow, marvelous weblog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content material!

  • http://www.wgetkey.blogspot.com Rukavina

    i like it so much. i was wondring for it from last month. thank you

  • Naala

    Great post but the color of the statue makes it easier, what would you recommend for skin tones, I have my son on white wall and his cheek is lined with purple, I would love to get rid of it if anyone has any ideas.

  • http://healthy-life-for-all.blogspot.com Griego

    hey! its so informative and useful.

  • valdev

    I’m more hands-on, or primitive, maybe.

    I use the Magic Wand tool to click on and select as many sections of the fringe as possible, then feather it a few pixels (I’ll try using the “Modify>Expand technique now though, because I think that solves some of my problems), then use the the “Image>Adjustment>Selective Color” function to decrease the magenta and/or cyan that I usually find in my older images (where i had used a lesser quality digital camera than the Pentax k20d I have now), and then either darken that selection, or use the Dropper tool to select the normal color from the object that has the fringe, and then the Paint Bucket set at about 30% to drop the color onto the fringe area – and then evaluate if it needs another splash of the Paint Bucket (at 30%) or even 2 more. Sometimes once is fine, other times it needs more paint.

    There are also instances, usually when I am pressed for time, that I just say, “Oh, fug-ged aboud it!” and, after selecting the fringe areas, simply lower the Saturation (then maybe darken and blur). It all depends on how important the picture is to me and/or how well each approach works for that specific picture.

    I have CS3, and use Photoshop Raw, even for my jpegs, but find that their chromatic aberration correction thing usually doesn’t work very well (and I keep trying, because I’d rather do it in Raw than in Photoshop). :/

  • http://none George Harter

    In an older version of Photoshop I used the Color Range selection filter and adjusted the Fussiness to focus in on the offending fringe – usually blue/cyan fringing in my landscape photos – then desaturated by about -70. A similar approach, but much quicker, that can change a horrible image into something quite acceptable and can deal with complicated areas, not just a simple linear fringe. Thanks for the idea.

Some older comments

  • George Harter

    June 18, 2013 03:33 am

    In an older version of Photoshop I used the Color Range selection filter and adjusted the Fussiness to focus in on the offending fringe - usually blue/cyan fringing in my landscape photos - then desaturated by about -70. A similar approach, but much quicker, that can change a horrible image into something quite acceptable and can deal with complicated areas, not just a simple linear fringe. Thanks for the idea.

  • valdev

    January 27, 2012 07:19 am

    I'm more hands-on, or primitive, maybe.

    I use the Magic Wand tool to click on and select as many sections of the fringe as possible, then feather it a few pixels (I'll try using the "Modify>Expand technique now though, because I think that solves some of my problems), then use the the "Image>Adjustment>Selective Color" function to decrease the magenta and/or cyan that I usually find in my older images (where i had used a lesser quality digital camera than the Pentax k20d I have now), and then either darken that selection, or use the Dropper tool to select the normal color from the object that has the fringe, and then the Paint Bucket set at about 30% to drop the color onto the fringe area - and then evaluate if it needs another splash of the Paint Bucket (at 30%) or even 2 more. Sometimes once is fine, other times it needs more paint.

    There are also instances, usually when I am pressed for time, that I just say, "Oh, fug-ged aboud it!" and, after selecting the fringe areas, simply lower the Saturation (then maybe darken and blur). It all depends on how important the picture is to me and/or how well each approach works for that specific picture.

    I have CS3, and use Photoshop Raw, even for my jpegs, but find that their chromatic aberration correction thing usually doesn't work very well (and I keep trying, because I'd rather do it in Raw than in Photoshop). :/

  • Griego

    December 25, 2011 02:59 am

    hey! its so informative and useful.

  • Naala

    December 15, 2011 06:21 am

    Great post but the color of the statue makes it easier, what would you recommend for skin tones, I have my son on white wall and his cheek is lined with purple, I would love to get rid of it if anyone has any ideas.

  • Rukavina

    October 8, 2011 02:33 pm

    i like it so much. i was wondring for it from last month. thank you

  • Mcrea

    September 2, 2011 08:52 am

    Wow, marvelous weblog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content material!

  • Destro

    July 21, 2011 06:55 am

    Hey You site is really good some really intesting posts... Thanks and keep up the good work ... Added you to my Bookmarks

  • s

    July 5, 2011 01:35 pm

    I think this is a great technique and will have to try it, thanks for sharing. The de-fringing feature in camera raw and lens distortion filter have not worked well for me in removing chromatic aberrations .

  • Rochat

    June 26, 2011 12:21 am

    Hello! I'm new here, glad to read your post!

  • Halgas

    April 28, 2011 10:26 am

    i really like this view

  • Adam Parker

    September 4, 2009 12:11 pm

    Nice tutorial. I have been spoiled by lightroom's chromatic aberration correction tools. I just put up another example of chromatic aberration http://blogs.adamparkerphotography.com/blog/Chromatic-Aberration/57/ Hope it will help your readers better detect chromatic aberration in their shots and entice them to fix it.

    Thanks for the very educational post. I'm sure it has been a help to a lot of people.

  • Judith Natt

    August 12, 2009 09:38 pm

    Can you please let us know how to replace a sky in Corel Pain Shop Pro X2 Ultra?

  • Len

    July 10, 2009 10:38 pm

    Fantastic idea !!! I Have Been Looking for a faster way to get rid of Chromatic Aberration in Photoshop and you have hit the nail on the head Thank you
    Another added Trick I Have used with this and with out, is to zoom and fine Trace with Polygonal Lasso Tool and then use Bevel and emboss with very low settings but pending on the photo taken?
    Hope this helps more viewers
    Regards Len

  • Carleton Akana

    July 10, 2009 03:45 am

    Darren, i'm trying to learn more about how to use Photoshop have Element 5. Am a beginner in photography and enjoying all the same. Some of my shots are too large for e-mailing. Was told that the acceptable is 1500 pixels or below. Hope you can help me. Will be upgrading to maybe 7, any suggestions?
    .......................................................message ends.................................................................................................................

  • michael

    July 4, 2009 03:58 pm

    Very clever. I never would have thought of it. I use a filter, PTLens, for this but it's good to know an alternative.

  • Mattie Shoes

    July 3, 2009 04:57 pm

    An example of using the lens correction filter to correct CA:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattie_shoes/358020545/

  • Mattie Shoes

    July 3, 2009 04:56 pm

    The "Lens Correction" filter under distortion can also fix CA, though you want to do it before cropping. :-)

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