Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adjusting White Balance in Lightroom

Last week we began our journey into the world of the Development Module in Adobe Lightroom 3 by providing a broad overview of some of the things Adobe has done to make using the various panels more intuitive.  This week we'll begin to review the tools found within the "Basic" panel starting with White Balance.

If you're familiar with white balance you know that it simply refers to how the camera interprets the color white within the context of the lighting being captured.  Different light sources have different "temperatures" and adjusting your white balance helps to compensate for those differences and removes color casts.  If you'd like more information about white balance, you can find a great article over at Digital Photography School.

Personally, I hardly EVER change the white balance setting on my camera.  I typically shoot with the camera set to "Cloudy" as I prefer the richness of the colors this produces and rarely find a need to adjust the white balance for outdoor shots.  If I move inside, however, shooting with the "Cloudy" setting is probably going to produce some unrealistic results.  Still, I rarely change the setting on the camera.  Why? Because shooting in RAW and using Lightroom makes adjusting the white balance so easy that I prefer to tweak it in post.

From the screen shot above, you'll see there are 3 different ways to adjust your white balance from the Lightroom Basic panel.
  1. Select a white balance (WB) preset from the drop down.  By default you can see that it is showing "As Shot".  Your other options include "Auto","Daylight","Cloudy","Shade","Tungsten", "Fluorescent", "Flash", and "Custom".  You can simply select any of these to see how it impacts your photo.
  2. Use the sliders - You can slide the "Temp" and "Tint" sliders to adjust the image to your liking.  For example, if the photo is too "cool" or blue, you can click and drag the Temp slider more to the left to compensate.  Remember to pay attention to the background color of the actual slider to know how moving the slider will impact your image.
  3. Use the Eye Dropper - This is my preferred method.  By clicking on the eye dropper, your cursor will turn into the eye dropper icon.  Position it over a neutral color within your photograph like a gray or light brown and click.  SHAZAM! Instant fix.  If you're afraid to "click", you can also see a preview of the potential results in the Navigator window as you hover over the various parts of the photo with your eye dropper cursor.  Once it looks correct to you in the Navigator window, click the button.
See how easy that was?  Certainly easier than carrying a grey card or special lens cap, etc., etc.  That's all for this week.  Come back next Tuesday when we'll review the Tone settings within the Basic panel - probably the most important sliders you'll ever use.

Until next time, keep click'n.


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