How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop, ACR or LR

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  By Jordan Younce
How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop, ACR or LR

White balancing is undoubtedly one of the essential edits a photographer can make in Adobe Camera RAW, Lightroom or Photoshop. However, it is always important to do this kind of editing in Lightroom right so as to ensure that your color is spot on while at the same time avoiding any color correction issues as you progress.

Although there are many ways to set white color balance in Lightroom presets, it is possible for you to do it with ease without having a color picker or ColorChecker card. The scene above shows the interior of a house whose colors are off balance thus in need of proper, quality color balance to deal with the ‘too much yellowish’ effects. When you have mastered this, you may be as good as Chad Latorre in editing.

To begin the process, you will need to go to camera RAW and then go to lens correction and enable the profile correction. Then do a basic automatic upright so as to get the lines straight. Take down the highlights to around –ve 80 (or thereabout) and bring up your shadows a little bit and then pump up the contrast and exposure a little bit.

After this, you will need to work on the color by picking on the part of the image that is supposed to be white but is currently as white as it should be. Ideally, you should look for a part that has light gray shades (or any part that has a neutral-looking color if there are no gray areas in the photo) and click on it. Click on the ColorChecker or eye dropper and the click on something that is supposed to be white. This will take out the yellow completely thus leaving the image looking more natural.

With the image looking more natural, it will be possible for you to take down the yellow and the lamps a little bit if there is need for you to do that. Just go to the HSL panel and the saturation and then take the yellow down a little bit.  This makes it a little bit clean to the eyes and attractive. You can adjust the contrast to fit your preferred appearance or play around with other options available until you achieve your most suitable results.

As you can see in the video, the process is very simple. Just select parts of the image which are supposed to be white and by so doing you will be able to correct white balance in Adobe camera RAW, Photoshop or Lightroom without using a ColorChecker or color swatch with you. So, it is important to know how to install the Lightroom preset so you could do the editing.

Different options available for setting White Balance in ACR

While at it, it is good to note that white balance can be set in different ways in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). You can opt for the Drop-down menu preset White Balance tool, Temperature & Tint Sliders or the White Balance tool. However, it is good to know which option works best for you. But before we discuss these methods, let’s look at the difference between JPEG and RAW as far as white balancing is concerned.

First, shooting in JPEG bakes your white balance preset choice into the image and therefore you will only have “Auto” as the only preset option available in your drop-down menu. On the other hand, using ACR to open a RAW image will display the initial while balance you chose in the camera. However, it also gives you a preset White Balance drop-down menu which you can use to pick your white balance. It is important to note that although many people believe that white balance cannot be changed for JPEG images, the process is actually possible using White Balance tool and Temperature & Tint Sliders. However, white balance adjustments always look much better when made on RAW images compared to what you see in JPEG images.

Using the different white balancing methods

White Balance Tool

Although we had touched on this method a little bit at the beginning of this post, we look at it more in details just to help you understand more. For beginners, White Balance tool is one of the easiest of all the methods and allows you to try your skills on various white balances quickly.

To use it, just press ‘I’ on your computer keyboard or select White Balance tool on the toolbar and then click on any part that is either gray or is neutral colored (of there is no gray) within the image. Telling the ACR that this area was supposed to appear neutral gray will remove the tints thus leaving the area looking gray. This automatically adjusts all the colors in the image.

The idea is to click on something that has light gray or neutral-looking color but not white. Choosing the right area will give you your preferred white balance but any selection of the wrong place will make your color look awful but this shouldn’t worry you as it can be changed by clicking on a different part. If you don’t get the exact color, it is possible to at least get closer using Temperature & Tint sliders.

The beauty of this method is that you can easily revert to the original settings or just as the image was shot out of camera by double clicking on the White Balance tool. You can experience as much as you can and easily correct white balance in Adobe RAW, Photoshop, or Lightroom using this tool.

Temperature & Tint Sliders

The two sliders make it easy for you to correct the white balance simply by dragging towards your preferred color. Since Adobe has added a color ramp behind the sliders, it is easy to see which direction to drag in order to get your preferred color. This means you can move from cold to warmer colors by simply dragging the temperature slider to the right and vice versa. The further you drag, the more your image changes

You can also opt for White Balance present before moving either of the sliders and this will cause the preset menu to display custom, meaning you started with preset and then modified it. The thumb rule is to choose white balance that best looks good to you but always be keener if you are involved in commercial photography for products that need accuracy for sale purposes.

Using presets

Presets are always good when correcting white balance in Adobe Camera RAW, Lightroom or Photoshop especially because it gives you an ideal starting point for further correction and you can fine-tune your white balance using a one-click concept.

To use this method, just click on ‘As Shot” and choose ‘Auto’ in the drop-down menu to see how it will appear. The image might have the desired white balance when you do this and that will be all. If it doesn’t try choosing the different presets until you get the right results or is at least closer to what you are looking for.

Although preset seems to be the easiest option, White Balance tool gives you greater options to work with white giving you greater control in your projects.

Here, learn to Create a Lith Print Effect in Photoshop.

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Jordan Younce

I am a Real Estate and Landscape photography as well as a Graphic Designer based in North Carolina, USA. My passion for photography started with taking photos with a point-and-shoot and now I own a successful photography business. My goal is to help others learn the art of photography, develop their creative side and just have fun.

Comments (1)

  1. JoAnn Banks Guest

    This was a great tutorial in white balance correction in ACR. Thank you. One question, sometimes mt white balance tool zooms instead of measuring white balance. I have to shut down PS and my computer and restart and then it will usually work. I run Windows 10 and the latest adobe PS and ACR updates.