Color banding is a problem we encounter when retouching many of our images or making them ready for print, but in many of the cases we just ignore it hoping no one will notice. In this long and detailed video, photographer / illustrator Lee Varis explains why banding appears in our photos, how we can recognize it, and shows the best methods we can use to fix it. (to save time, skip to minute 3:30).
Banding is when the transition between colors is not smooth, what can create patterns of vertical lines. This can be very visible when shooting clear blue sky or sunsets, as well as when shooting on a color backdrop in the studio. Color Banding won't be very visible in areas where you have a lot of details/objects (such as faces, trees, or any complex subject).
In just few minutes you can easily fix color banding on your images (of course, depends on the situation). There are two main methods that can be used to fix that issue: Adding noise, or using the 'Spatter' tool. As shown in the video, the second option gives better results. Here is a quick example I created using one of my old photos to show the difference this method can make:
1: Original photo, color banding is visible without using any tools (hint: look at the sky)
2: Original photo with a solar curve to get a better view of the banding.
3: The photo after using the 'Spatter' method (shown in video) with a solar curve to get a better view of the banding.
4: The final result. Color banding is gone.
As you can see, the color transition in the sky is much smoother in examples #3 and #4. It took me less than a minute to fix the color banding issues on my photo, and the difference is huge.