Colors. Temperatures. Tints. All things "white balance." It can all get so confusing and take what was a fun activity and turn it into a frustrating one. This tutorial will take some of the frustration away by teaching you how to quickly and easily fix white balance in Lightroom.
White balance is the color temperature of an image, as it was captured by your camera. Why isn't the white balance perfect every time? Your camera can't read the color of light like it can the strength of light. It needs YOU to tell it what to do, what the like is like in a setting, so it can compensate accordingly.
However, this post is not about how to capture the correct white balance in camera (but you can see those here and here). No, we are going to assume that auto white balance was used and your image is slightly too cool, or that cloudy or shade options were used in camera and the image is too warm. Problems with white balance are almost always one of those two: too cool, too warm.
There are three main ways to adjust white balance in Lightroom:
- Eye dropper
- WB preset options
- Manually adjust temperature and tint
Using the Eye Dropper
Click the eye dropper icon in the Basic panel. Move to a part of your image that is neutral, meaning the RGB (red, green, blue) values are very close to each other, to try and find a neutral spot to use as a new target neutral. When you hover over an area, a box will show up with the RGB color values in the bottom.
A good place to start is the whites of the eyes, then the teeth, then something that should be neutral like a white or tan, even something gray like buttons or gates, etc.
While you are looking for the right spot, as you move around the image you will get a preview of what the white balance will be by looking in the Navigator panel. The white balance won't change until you click your mouse, so take your time to find the right spot. If you click and decide the new white balance isn't right, you can do it all over again.
White Balance Preset Options
Most all digital cameras have these WB options that you can set IN the camera: Auto, Flash, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Florescent, and Kelvin. If you chose one of the special WB options in camera that is a-okay. If you just used auto WB, that is a-okay, too.
What if you chose one, any one of them, but now the white balance doesn't look right? You can choose another WB option in Lightroom and they are the same options! For example if you used cloudy in camera but the image is too warm, you can try Tungsten, which is cool, to balance out the warmth.
You can simply click each preset until you find one that works for you. Or, you might find one that works fairly well but is too cool or too warm or too green, etc. Simply move the temp or tint sliders a bit to tailor the WB option for you.
Using Temp and Tint Sliders
Sometimes the image just needs a little tweaking, nothing major. If you can quickly identify the problem with the white balance, say its just a tad too cool, you can simply click the temp slider and gently move it towards the yellows. Or, if the image seems to have a bit of a green tint to it, slowly move the tint slider toward the magenta side.
Sometimes the change in white balance is subtle; sometimes it is drastic. It really all depends on the individual image and what WB was used in camera. For the image I used in these examples, the change is subtle, but it is there. Initially the image is a tad cool, but with a slight adjustment it is now soft and warm.