White Balance

White Balance
Explore the three quick white balance correction techniques and learn how to manually calibrate the balance of each channel. White balance is a feature found in digital cameras to prevent color casts by adjusting the temperature of the photo. However, lighting variance and wrong white balance settings may produce color casts that require post processing.

Quick White Balance Correction Techniques

Here are several of the most popular white correction method that's fast and easy to use. They are sorted by their effectiveness with the best technique first.

Color Correcting with Raw Editor

If your digital camera supports the raw file format and you've taken your photo in this format, you're in luck. White balance in raw files can be easily fixed at none or minimal quality loss. Because most cameras take raw photos in 12 bit color (4096 shades/color) instead of 8 bit color (256 shades/color), this gives you powerful white balance adjustments with no visible loss in quality. Tip: Don't let the bit number fool you! Although  most digital cameras are only able to produce 12 bit out of the 16 bit color, they're still a lot better than 8 bit color. 12 bit color contains 4096 tones per color and that's over 68 million colors and 4000 times better than 8 bit color!

Step 1

Open your raw file with Adobe Photoshop. The raw editor should appear.
Adobe Photoshop Raw Editor

Step 2

Try using auto white balance first. To do this, select Auto from the White Balance drop down menu. If that doesn't work, try the different options in the drop down menu.
White Balance Options

Step 3

If that does not work or if you would like a more precise white balance adjustment, manually select a gray area in your image. To do this, use the White Balance Tool (I) and click on a point that's supposed to be gray. Try to select a point that's closest to 50% gray for best results.
White Balance Tool Selected

Step 4

You may make final slight adjustments by adjusting the Temperature and Tint sliders.
Raw Temperature and Tint Sliders

Final Results

Rollover the image to see the before and after effect.

Final Results with Raw Editor

Color Correcting with Levels

This technique produce the best results and is extremely fast and easy. Use this whenever possible for non-raw photos. 

Step 1

Download and save the following JPG file to your computer then open it inside Adobe Photoshop.

title="jpg" height="16" alt="jpg" src="https://www.photoshoptutorials.ws/mambots/editors/jce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/filemanager/images/ext/jpg_small.gif" width="16" /> twilight 128.67 Kb (right-mouse click> Save As)

Twilight photo

Step 2

Add a Levels adjustment layer (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels). Tip: We use an adjustment layer instead of applying levels directly to the image to practice non-destructive image processing. This way, we always have a backup of the original image as a layer.

Levels adjustment layer added

Step 3

In the Levels tool, click on the Gray Point eyedropper. Your cursor should change into an eyedropper. With this tool, you can click on an area that's supposed to gray (50% gray for best results). For the image we're working on, we can simply select on any cement road that seems closest to 50% gray. Try clicking on a few other locations areas with cement to see which color you get. I had to try several times to find the best spot.
Gray Point Selector

Final Results

Rollover the image to see the before and after effect.
Final Results with Levels Adjustment Layer

Color Correcting with Color Overlay

This is one of the techniques I've developed probably over a year ago when I wasn't very good with Photoshop. It worked very well on some photos, but not on all. If you're unable to fix the white balance with the Levels technique, give this one a try.

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