Discover The Moire Effect, Where Two Patterns Interweave To Create Unwanted Optical Illusions. Learn How To Avoid It And Reduce Quick And Simple.

The image in the photo always differs from what we see with our own eyes. It happens due to the specifics of the structure of photo and video cameras. We can often see strange lighting effects and optical illusions in the pictures. Today we want to talk about a phenomenon you have surely encountered at least once in your photos or images from the Internet.

Rainbow lines and circles in photographs you see on some pictures have a name. Did you hear the word “moiré” (pronounced “more-ay”)? Sometimes they make a special effect and make a photo unique, but mostly they are plenty of headaches for photographers.

This article will delve into the moiré effect and common ways to avoid it in your photos. Plus, you’ll learn some ways to fix the problem if it occurs and reduce it both in camera settings and using software like Luminar Neo, Adobe Lightroom, and Photoshop. Let’s begin with breaking down what moiré is and how to spot the issue.

Moiré Definition

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Moiré is a visual effect that happens when two similar patterns overlap, creating new, wavy, or unwanted stripes of color that go across a photo that wasn’t originally there. It can occur in various situations, like photographing subjects with fine repetitive patterns or printing images with intricate designs. Moiré effect also happens on computer screens or electronic displays when certain patterns clash. It can make photos look distorted or grainy, and it’s generally considered an unwanted artifact.

For example, when you try to take a picture of a striped shirt or print a photo with fine lines, moiré can appear, making the image look weird or distorted. It’s like an unexpected optical illusion that is distracting or unwanted. Photographers and designers try to avoid moiré by using special techniques and filters to minimize its impact and maintain the clarity and quality of images and patterns.

Did you ever think why computer screens look weird on camera? Moiré causes the rainbow effect we see. This phenomenon also happens on computer screens or electronic displays when certain patterns clash. That is why pictures of screens look weird.

"Some negative phenomenon," — you may think. And you will be right. Unwanted iridescent lines are very difficult to use in photography. For creating unique and extraordinary shots, photographers usually use Bokeh Photography Effect. The moiré and bokeh effects are two distinct and unrelated phenomena in photography.

In contrast to moiré, the bokeh effect refers to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas in an image. It is achieved by using a wide aperture in photography, creating a shallow depth of field. The out-of-focus background or foreground elements appear soft and blurry, enhancing the focus on the main subject. This creative technique can produce pleasing and artistic blur in certain areas of an image, not only in making shots step but on ready pictures in a photo editor. Today we can use AI technology to create unique art. With focus stack software from Luminar Neo, making a bokeh effect is possible in any picture you like.

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Photo Examples Of Moire Effect

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Causes Of This Effect

Around us, many surfaces and terrains of different things evoke moiré artifacts when falling into the camera lens. This effect is caused by the interference patterns that arise when two regular textures with similar but slightly different frequencies or orientations overlap or interact. When these textures come together, they create new ones not present in the original images or real life.

In photography and printing, moiré occurs when capturing or reproducing images of subjects with fine, repetitive patterns, such as grids, lines, or textiles. If the camera sensor or printing method aligns poorly with the subject's pattern, the interference between the two textures leads to moiré artifacts, appearing as wavy or rippled distortions.

In the digital realm, moiré can occur on computer screens or electronic displays when displaying images or textures with conflicting patterns. Moiré can happen due to the limited resolution of the screen or when superimposing images with similar textures, causing the moiré effect to be noticeable.

Professionals use techniques to reduce or avoid moiré, such as adjusting the patterns, using anti-aliasing filters, or employing specialized software to process the images and minimize interference.

Moiré Reduction Techniques

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If it has already happened that you took a good picture but found an undesirable effect on it, this is not a reason to be upset. Let's talk about minimizing the rainbow effect when taking photos and removing the moiré pattern before using the picture.

There are some common moiré reduction techniques. Sometimes it is enough to use one; sometimes, you should try two or three to get better results.

Anti-Aliasing Filters

The offers of the photo equipment market are growing and improving every year. Almost all manufacturers load their hardware with built-in camera settings to facilitate moiré prevention. In addition, modern cameras have high-resolution sensors. A higher resolution means the sensor has more megapixels, allowing it to capture more detail in your imagery and reducing the likelihood of aliasing.

Anti-aliasing filters (also known as low-pass filters) are used in digital cameras to blur the image slightly, reducing the sharpness of patterns and preventing moiré from occurring. The anti-aliasing filter is placed in front of the camera sensor. It slightly blurs the incoming light before it reaches the sensor. This blurring reduces the sharpness of the high-frequency patterns, preventing them from causing aliasing.

When light enters the camera through the lens, it carries information about the subject's details and patterns. In digital imaging, the camera sensor comprises a grid of pixels. Each pixel captures a small portion of the incoming light to form the image. After capturing the image, some cameras may apply additional digital processing to reduce moiré further or sharpen the image.

While anti-aliasing filters effectively reduce moiré and aliasing, they also introduce a slight loss of image sharpness. To address this, some high-end cameras or specialized applications may offer the option to turn off the filter, allowing photographers to choose between reducing moiré and maximizing image sharpness, depending on the specific needs of their photography.

Test Photos

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However, an update of the camera is optional to get the desired clean photos. Sometimes it is enough to take a few test shots to notice all the flaws in the picture. Enlarge the image and look closely at any distortions. Unwanted stripes of color that go across a photo or yellows, purples, or greens waves means you got moiré.

Changing camera angles or distances between the camera and the subject can help avoid the alignment issues that cause moiré. Change the shooting angle or adjust the distance between the camera and the subject to prevent precise alignment with the repetitive patterns. Dithering also plays its role. Adding random noise or designs to the image can help disperse the moiré effect or make it less noticeable.

With a little perseverance, you can take a perfect picture!

Adjust Image Capture Parameters

You can adjust several parameters and techniques to avoid moiré in image capture. Here are some tips:

  • Adjust aperture settings: Using a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) can reduce the sharpness of patterns and minimize moiré. When shooting at a small aperture (such as F16 or higher), diffraction softens the image, ultimately helping to reduce aliasing.
  • Use a different lens: Experiment with different lenses, as some may be more prone to moiré than others. Consider using lenses with focal lengths that don't match the pattern frequency of the subject.
  • Avoid high-contrast patterns: Choose subjects or backgrounds with less high-contrast patterns, as they are more likely to cause moiré.
  • Shoot in RAW format: When capturing images in RAW, you have more flexibility during post-processing to reduce moire using specialized software.

By carefully adjusting these image capture parameters and employing suitable techniques, you can minimize the chances of moiré occurrence and ensure cleaner, more visually appealing photographs.

Post-Processing Techniques

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Now we know the secret tricks to avoid the moiré pattern in the photo. But what to do if you still notice it in the finished picture? Let's figure out how to get rid of the moiré effect.

Photo editing services also do not stand still and improve the functions of working with unwanted rainbow effects. Such applications as Luminar Neo can help you reach the best photo processing result. The large interface with many functions may scare you at first. Still, with a photo editor for beginners, you will quickly master the basics and be able to edit photos, enjoying the process and the result.

Post-processing techniques can effectively fix moiré in images after they have been captured. Here are some common methods used to address moiré:

Blur or Smoothing: Apply a slight blur or smoothing filter to the affected areas of the image. It can help reduce the visibility of moire patterns by softening the sharp edges.

Frequency Separation: Separate the image into low-frequency and high-frequency layers. Target the high-frequency layer (where moiré is present) and apply selective adjustments to reduce the interference.

Clone or Heal: Manually clone or heal the moiré-affected areas using adjacent pattern-free regions as a reference. This method requires precision and patience but can be effective.

Desaturation or Color Adjustments: Sometimes, moiré may be more noticeable in certain color channels. Adjusting the color balance or desaturating specific colors can mitigate the effect.

Moire Reduction Filters: Some image editing software includes specific moiré reduction filters or plugins that automatically detect and reduce moire patterns.

Resampling or Downsampling: Resample the image at a lower resolution to change the pattern frequencies and reduce the moiré effect. This method may result in a loss of image detail.

Selective Sharpening: Carefully sharpen the image, but avoid applying sharpening to areas with noticeable moire patterns.

Texture or Pattern Overlay: Overlay a subtle texture or pattern that matches the moiré area to blend with the image's rest.

Dithering: Adding random noise or patterns to the image can help disperse the moiré effect or make it less noticeable.

It's important to note that while these techniques can help minimize moiré, they may not completely remove it in all cases. The effectiveness of each method depends on the severity and type of moiré present in the image. As with any post-processing, it's crucial to work with a copy of the original image to preserve the integrity of the original file. Experimenting with various approaches and adjusting settings will lead to the best results.

Fine-tuning And Iterative Adjustment

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Fine-tuning and iterative adjustment are essential post-processing techniques when fixing moiré in images. Let's define how these approaches can help:


  1. After applying an initial moiré reduction technique, review the results and evaluate if there are still some unwanted patterns.
  2. Fine-tune the settings of the applied filters or adjustments to balance reducing moiré and maintaining picture quality and sharpness.
  3. Continuously review the changes to avoid over-processing the image.

Iterative Adjustment: If a single moiré reduction technique isn't sufficient, consider iteratively combining multiple methods. Apply one process at a time, evaluate the results, and then use another as needed. For example, start with a general smoothing or blur, then selectively sharpen specific areas that lose detail.

Selective Application: Instead of applying moiré reduction uniformly across the entire image, use selective adjustments. Isolate needed areas using masks or selection tools and apply the moiré reduction techniques only to those regions. This approach allows you to retain sharpness and detail in unaffected areas.

Zoom and Inspect: Zoom in on the moiré-affected areas and inspect them closely during the post-processing. It helps to identify any remaining artifacts or distortions that need further adjustment.

Compare Before/After: Frequently switch between the original and edited image versions to ensure that moiré reduction efforts are not adversely affecting the overall image quality.

Use High-Resolution Sources: Work with high-resolution source files during post-processing. High-resolution images contain more detail, which can help retain image quality after applying moiré reduction techniques.

Remember, moiré removal is a delicate process, and the goal is to balance reducing unwanted artifacts and preserving image quality. Regularly saving incremental copies of the image as you edit will ensure you can backtrack if necessary. A cautious approach to fine-tuning and iterative adjustment will yield the best results when fixing moiré in post-processing.

Bottom line

Understanding concepts such as moiré can help you create images with improved clarity and reduced interference patterns. It is one of those phenomena that sounds complex but quite simple — once you know how it works. It can be frustrating to face it, but with a little knowledge and effort, it can be avoided entirely or removed in post-production fairly easily.

Hope there will be no discouragement if you notice aliasing in your photos. Photography rainbow effect is quite common, but it can be minimized or removed using the techniques discussed here. Preventing and correcting the aliasing effect is an essential step toward mastering photography. Now you are closer to creating compelling and visually engaging photographs. Good luck!

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