Most photographers go through this at some stage.
Loading up the shots in Lightroom and scratching their head: “What is this pink/magenta haze near the corners/edges in my photos?”
The answer is purple fringing, and it ain’t pretty. But thankfully, it’s easy enough to prevent and even correct in post.
Let’s dive deeper.
What Is Color Fringing?
Color fringing, also known as purple- or just fringing, is the typically purple color that sometimes occurs in high-contrast boundary areas of a photo.
While fringing is mainly an effect of chromatic aberration (aka chromatic distortion or spherochromatism).
This basically means the lens cannot focus all the colors in one spot.
However, some flares can also produce CA, shorthand for chromatic aberration.
How Can You Avoid Chromatic Aberration?
Now that we understand where purple fringing comes from (CA) let’s dig in to how to work around it.
Picking an Optically Solid Lens
Getting a high-quality lens will produce less CA in your shots.
Before investing, you might want to specifically research the given product’s optical performance.
Many (but not all!) vintage lenses are notorious for heavy aberration. While this can be an intended aesthetic in filmmaking and photography, it’s usually not.
By picking up a newer lens from a credible manufacturer, you’re buying a piece of their respective R&D.
This means that you are getting various coatings and other clever optical sorcery to combat artifacts like fringing and moiré.
Techniques to minimize aberration
When composing, do your best to fit the subject within the center of the frame.
Chromatic aberration is more prevalent the further from the center you look.
Aside from buying and composing your way out of the problem, you can also mitigate CA by avoiding high-contrast scenes.
Aberration mostly appears when shooting wide open in poorly lit environments. Simply stop down and bump up your ISO a notch to prevent it.
Lastly, since CA is quite prevalent in landscape photography, you can largely avoid it by using a tripod, enabling much longer shutter speeds.
It’s Too Late, I Already Have Purple Fringing — What to Do?
You connect your camera to your laptop or mobile device and transfer the contents of the SD card.
Upon closely inspecting the photos, you wonder: “What is this pink/magenta haze near the corners and edges in my photos?”
In fact, purple fringing is not always purple or magenta/pink. It can also have a greenish tint.
Purple or green—fret not, here are some easy tips for correcting aberration in post-production.
Let’s start off with a quick, universal CA tip.
Chromatic aberration is not an issue in black and white photography. Hence, you could convert your camera to noir—or convert your photo to grayscale.
Now let’s see how to fix it in color photos.
How to Get Rid of Fringing aka Chromatic Aberration in Lightroom
If you’re using Lightroom Mobile, tap the Optics panel and activate the switch that says,… you guessed it! “Remove Chromatic Aberration.”
In Lightroom CC, the process is similar: open up the affected image using the Develop panel.
From there, select “Lens Corrections,” and finally, “Remove Chromatic Aberration” in the Profile tab.
If you’re using Lightroom Classic, you’ve probably been around the block.
In any case, Adobe has an official guide on CA removal. The Classic workflow is slightly more hands-on but also more nuanced and flexible.
How to Remove Fringing Using Photoshop
First of all, there is a dead-simple way to remove fringing/aberration in Adobe Photoshop.
Go to the Filters pane and pick the “Lens Correction” filter.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, duplicate the layer, apply the “Gaussian Blur” filter, and change blending mode to color.
Finally, apply a layer mask and brush away the areas that should not be affected.
In case you’ve ever been puzzled what’s the magenta haze near the objects’ edges on your photos, it should be abundantly clear now.
The fringing effect is caused by chromatic aberration—an optical artifact that you can easily prevent and combat at various stages.
Using a quality lens, stopping up, and avoiding contrasty edges, are all viable options to get rid of CA. As a last resort, you can quickly correct it in post.