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Removing Purple Fringing

Rejection Reasons #10

Have you ever received this Rejection Reason?

Lighting Problems. Purple fringe, blown highlights or lenses flare.

Shutterstock Submitter Pharm has, and below he provides a pair of methods to address the dreaded purple fringe.

First, a brief explanation of purple fringing and its cause. Purple fringing is a phenomenon caused by different wavelengths of light (different colors) bending at different angles when passing through a medium, such as the glass of a lens. When light travels through the lens, it bends so that it can focus sharply on the sensor (or film) in the camera. Because each color of light bends differently, each color ends up being focused in a slightly different place.

If you have an image that contains fringing, notice that it’s usually worse near the edges of the image. This is because the light entering the lens must be bent at a sharper angle than it is near the center of the lens, thereby greatly increasing the chance of fringing.

Think about a prism (remember those from your high school science years?). When white light hits a prism, each wavelength (each color) of light bends at a different angle and exits the prism to land in a different place. This is why the light coming out of the prism spreads out into different visible colors. (If each landed in the same place, the color would be white since all the colors added together form white.)

High quality lenses, especially prime lenses (non-zooms) often have special coatings and other lensmaker’s tricks to help reduce or eliminate purple fringing. Cheaper lenses and zooms are more likely to produce purple fringing.

Even with the best glass (the “cool” term for a lens), sooner or later, you’ll end up with some drive-you-crazy fringing. It is a good idea to be prepared to pull out one or two of your best tricks to remove it.

This method is best used if you only have a few spots of fringing, such as a reflection or two on water, glass, or a chrome object.

1. Open your image.

2. Duplicate the background layer by pressing Ctrl-J on a PC or Cmd-J on a Mac.

3. Click on your duplicate layer to make sure it’s the active layer.

4. Zoom in to 100% or greater so you can see your “trouble” spots. In the example below, this is a close-up of the rim of a glass.

5. Go to the toolbox and select the sponge tool. Now go to the top of your screen and make sure you’ve got the brush set to “desaturate” at 100% flow. Grab a small, soft-edged brush (the size of the brush depends on the size of the area on which you’re working).

6. When you find a purple-fringed area, paint over it with the sponge tool and you’ll see the purple disappear. Please note, even with the brush set on 100% flow, you may need to brush over the area more than once.

7. Once you’ve removed all the fringed areas you can find, flatten and save your image (ALWAYS with a different title than the original).

Luckily, there’s more than one way to remove purple fringing. Here’s another:

1. Open your image. Our sample image is the rim of a glass with purple fringing on the bottom edge of the rim. Notice the arrows, conveniently placed to gently guide your eyes to the problem area. (And yes, I know the background isn’t white.)

2. Duplicate the background layer by pressing Ctrl-J on a PC or Cmd-J on a Mac.

3. Click once on the duplicate layer to make sure it’s the active layer.

4. Change the blend mode of that layer to Color. This is a drop down menu at the top of the layers palette where you see a box containing the word “Normal.”

5. From the menu at the top of Photoshop workspace, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Now increase the amount of blur while looking at the purple fringing in your image. Increase the amount of the blur until the fringing disappears. Be sure you’re looking at your image and NOT at the image in the blur preview box. As an alternative, you can also select only a section of the image and apply the blur. This comes in handy if you happen to notice that the blurring affects other parts of your image that you didn’t want to change.

6. If your purple fringing is gone and you’re thrilled with it, I mean ABSOLUTELY thrilled (I’m talking “dancing, singing, waking the neighbors, giving the dog an extra treat” thrilled), then go ahead and flatten the image and save it because you’re done! ALWAYS save with a different title than the original.

Now, when you read newbies on the forums saying they’re pulling their hair out over this purple fringing issue, you can jump in and exclaim, “Oh, that’s simple to fix. Here’s how to do it—” They’ll be so thankful, you’ll be their hero forever. Trust me on this.