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Eliminating chromatic aberration from outdoor image captures

Autumn on Kenosha Pass Colorado
Autumn on Kenosha Pass Colorado
Steve Krull

Part of your outdoor recreation and adventure enjoyment are the memories that are taken home. The image captures that are acquired are the proof of your conquests, moments in time that can be shared with your friends and sometimes even a little extra income if you happen to catch a scene that is special enough to catch the eye of a newspaper or magazine. However there are difficulties that go along with outdoor photography that often mar an otherwise good capture. Extreme lighting conditions caused by bright sunlight are the blame of many a ruined image.

One of the most common unwanted effects of bright sunlight is chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration occurs when a lens is unable to focus all colors to the same focal plane. The result is unwanted fringe colors or halos around objects in the image. Purple, cyan, yellow and red halos in a digital capture are common in bright sunlight.

There are a number of ways to reduce chromatic aberration in your final image. More expensive lenses are designed to minimize this effect, so if you are depending on quality images for income a good lens is the best place to start. Shooting directly towards the sun results in the greatest fringing, so move around the subject if possible to minimize the effect in the original capture.

Shooting in raw mode is the next best thing you can do to make sure that you can get the best capture possible. There are a number of good software tools for correcting lens effects in raw files prior to producing an actual digital image, so if your camera has raw mode use it as often as possible.

Once you have done all you can do to minimize lens effects prior to producing your image, there are a couple of tricks that can be employed in post processing that can clean up an image. One simple process that works most of the time is a procedure that makes use of Gaussian blur and fade color filters. To eliminate chromatic aberration with this method, first make a new layer on which to do the work. Then use the Gaussian blur software filter with a radius of 8.0 to blur the new layer. Next use the fade Gaussian blur tool with opacity set to 100% and mode set to color. Most chromatic aberration will be magically eliminated by this simple trick. Sometimes a faint halo will remain in some portions of the image and can easily be eliminated by using the erase tool to reveal the sharper details from the layer beneath.