Do we need to give up on our images, just because the image came out a little bluish or reddish? The answer is no. Well, if you photograph in RAW, you can correct the colors later on inside Lightroom, not that you can’t do it in JPG, but doing it on a RAW image is a nondestructive way to correct any of your images, even if you did not correct it on your camera beforehand. So don’t give up on your image, we can make it work.
For those who are just beginning in photography, white balance, color temperature, Kelvin, 5000k, etc. can seem difficult to understand, but with Lightroom, we can manage it quite intuitively.
Light temperature is measured in Kelvin and every type of light has a certain temperature, and each temperature has a certain color, like a candle light which is red or xenon car lights that have a more bluish color. When you are messing with your camera’s white balance, you will see an icon of a sun, shadow, flash or clouds. When you select any of them, what the camera is attempting to do is to compensate for the light you are photographing.
To illustrate the temperature, let’s separate them into 3 different categories: RED, NEUTRAL, and BLUE.
RED: Candle Light 2000K, sunrise/sunset 2000-3000K, incandescent lights 2500K.
NEUTRAL: the Sun at its peak around 5500K, flashes and studio flash strobes are in that range as well.
BLUE: xenon 6200K and blue sky 10000K.
Our eyes adjust automatically to the color temperature either in the shade or in the sun, but the camera is not able to do that, therefore you will have to do it for your camera. There are a lot of hardware devices that will help you get the correct colors every time; monitors for photography, monitor calibrating devices, color checker cards, color booths, etc.
In this tutorial, we will learn how to correct the white balance of photographs, either by using manual settings or automatic settings or by using the White Balance Selector.
In this particular image, the color temperature is way off. As we can see, the image is quite red, most people would delete the image and try to set the correct white balance in the camera, then take the shot again. But, since I have photographed in RAW, I can always change the white balance settings later inside Lightroom, in a nondestructive way.
For those shooting JPG, it is best that you choose the correct white balance in your camera. Lightroom can try to correct it later, but not as it would with a RAW image.
In the Develop Module, we have some presets to choose from, as we would have inside our camera settings.
Auto: the auto mode does a pretty decent job on outdoor photographs, but when indoors, we sometimes may have to adjust it a bit further.
The other preset settings will correct it as the names would suggest; daylight will assume that you have photographed outdoors in daylight, cloudy as on a cloudy day, or tungsten, as under a tungsten light bulb and so on.
If any of those presets won’t fit your needs, we can always correct it manually.
In order to manually correct the color temperature, we can change the temperature and tint sliders.
Temp: will correct the white balance from blue to yellow.
Tint: will correct the white balance from green to magenta.
In this particular image, the white balance is off too, tending to a more bluish feel.
We could correct it manually like we did on the image before, but if there is something in the scene that you remember that has a neutral color, we can use it in our favor to correct the color temperature automatically.
Click on the White Balance Selector (W), which looks like an eyedropper tool and click either on the white or the black part of Bart Simpson’s eye. That’s because the White Balance Selector tool will work on the neutral colors like whites, grays, and blacks.
Using the White Balance Selector, hover over the image. We can see the preview in the navigator window before we even click it.
After you click on a neutral color, Lightroom will try to correct it by assuming the color you clicked is neutral white, neutral gray or neutral black depending on the color you chose to click.
Sometimes you can see that is not 100% correct, so you can tweak the temperature to get the desired color, but at least it could be a starting point.
This way we can easily correct the colors of the images. If you need to get the perfect color, either for those clients that need the correct color of their product or if you are photographing a work of art, using a color checker card can be an effective way to do it, I will make a tutorial on that later.