Fixing Green Skin Tones in Portraits

We all know that golden hour is fantastic for some things, blue hour is great for others and noon is to be avoided if at all possible. The problem, though, is that when you shoot events such as weddings, things aren’t always ideal nor do they always go as planned. Last year, I found myself shooting a “first look” with a bride and groom, but we were forced to do it at noon due to time constraints. The wedding venue didn’t have many shady areas, so I chose the best one for the situation and hoped for the best. I didn’t notice at first, but the sunlight that was reflecting off of the grass was casting a green light upwards onto the groom’s face (picture below). This is one of those situations where you cringe a little bit when you realize that the pictures weren’t quite as you planned them.

Note the green tones on his chin and around his eyes

Some days before this I had been playing around with blending modes and discovered the usefulness of the “color” blending mode. The technique that I’m about to share with you can be used in many situations, but let’s put it to use on the photo of the groom shot at noon.

You can just edit your photos in Photoshop, if you wish, but I almost always start in Lightroom. If you’re starting in Lightroom, make your exposure, color temperature, etc changes first, then right-click on the image and select Edit in>Edit in Adobe Photoshop. Once it opens, your first step will be to duplicate the layer. You can do this by right-clicking on the layer on the bottom-right of the screen that has the thumbnail of your image on it. When the menu appears, choose Duplicate Layer. Click okay after you decide what to name your new layer. While your new layer is selected on the lower-right, find the drop-down menu right above the layers. It should say Normal. Click it and select Color. Now we can get to work on the image.

With the color layer selected, choose the brush tool (or press “B” on your keyboard). Adjust the brush size with the bracket buttons ( “[“ and “]” ). Change the opacity and flow both to between 15-20%. Then, find a patch of skin that is near the affected area and, while holding ALT, click on the color of skin you’d like to paint with. Do a once-over on the green-fringed area. If the green isn’t gone, go over it again, giving more attention to the greener areas.

If more than one area is affected, resample an area closer to the new area before you resume brushing.

Once you’re done, if you started in Lightroom, go to File>Save, then close Photoshop and your edited image will automatically pop up in Lightroom.

Congratulations! You’re done (finished picture below).

If you’re interested in the video version of this tutorial, go here:

Fixed image