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Setting white balance

From: Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos

Video: Setting white balance

The color in an image is determined by the color temperature in which a scene is shot. Most cameras have white balance controls. The purpose of those controls is to try to neutralize any color cast as a photo is being taken. But sometimes the White Balance controls are set improperly for the scene, or if your camera is set to Auto White Balance, sometimes it can be fooled if you're shooting in a mixed lighting situation. It doesn't matter, if you're shooting a raw file, how you set your white balance controls in the camera, because you can start from scratch with white balance here in the Camera Raw workspace if you're working on a Raw file.

Setting white balance

The color in an image is determined by the color temperature in which a scene is shot. Most cameras have white balance controls. The purpose of those controls is to try to neutralize any color cast as a photo is being taken. But sometimes the White Balance controls are set improperly for the scene, or if your camera is set to Auto White Balance, sometimes it can be fooled if you're shooting in a mixed lighting situation. It doesn't matter, if you're shooting a raw file, how you set your white balance controls in the camera, because you can start from scratch with white balance here in the Camera Raw workspace if you're working on a Raw file.

If you're working on a JPEG, you don't have as much editing latitude insofar as white balance goes, because your camera's White Balance settings have been baked into the JPEG by your camera's processing. So here I do have a Raw image and I'm going to try to fix the color cast that I see here. I'd like the sheets in this image to be more neutral, as they actually were in the scene. It's often hard to judge what a color cast is with the naked eye. I can tell that the sheet isn't white, but it's not clear if it's too gold, or too green, or too blue, and it really doesn't matter. I don't have to judge this for myself. Instead, I can use the controls and tools here in Camera Raw.

I'll start by going over to the White Balance section. Here is a Temperature slider that I can use to change the overall color balance from cooler, toward the blue end to warmer, toward the gold end. There's also a Tint slider down here that runs from Green to Magenta. I'm going to put these sliders back where they were by going to this dropdown menu and choosing As Shot. So there's my starting point. I could just come in and start dragging the Temperature and Tint sliders to taste, but I often like to start with some preset White Balance settings. I can access those from the White Balance menu.

So there is the way that the photo was shot. If I choose Auto, that's Elements' best guess about what the white balance should be and I really don't think that works in this case, it's too cool. So I'll go back to the menu and I'll just cycle through these other choices until I see one that I really like. Now these are too gold, that one is too blue, that one's not bad, and that's a little warm. So maybe I'll start with Fluorescent, and then I'll fine-tune the result. In this case I can see that this is too blue, so I'll drag the Temperature slider over toward the right, and I think that looks pretty good.

Notice that the preset added a bit of magenta, which is reducing the original green in the photo. So, that's one way to work using the White Balance controls in the Basic tab. I'm going to take this back to the original As Shot White Balance from the dropdown menu and show you another way to approach white balance, and that is to go up to the Toolbar and click on this Eyedropper tool. With this Eyedropper, the idea is to click on something in the image that should be a neutral gray, and if there's nothing gray in the photo, the next best thing is to click on something that should be white, or perhaps black.

So in this case, I might come and click on this doorframe. And that does change the white balance, but I really don't like the result. I can try clicking somewhere else, like right here, or maybe over here on the other frame, and each time I click I get a different result. Elements is neutralizing the color just under my cursor and changing all the other colors in the photo to fall into place around that neutral color. So I think that's a pretty good result, I could still come over to the sliders and tweak it further, maybe by adding a bit more magenta.

So that's another way to approach white balance correction here in the Camera Raw workspace. If you're following along with me and you want to close this window to prepare for the next movie, just go down to the Cancel button and click there. Later in this chapter, I'll show you how to use some other buttons here to save changes with your image, but for now you can just click Cancel.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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  1. 6m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
    3. Overview of the editing workspaces
      3m 34s
  2. 43m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 21s
    2. Making the most of the tools in Elements
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging the panels
      4m 32s
    4. Zooming and panning
      4m 3s
    5. Viewing multiple photos
      3m 51s
    6. Undoing
      5m 15s
    7. Cropping
      3m 46s
    8. Resizing
      7m 18s
    9. Saving images and examining formats
      6m 2s
  3. 19m 23s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 59s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      4m 33s
    3. Creating new layers
      6m 51s
  4. 38m 28s
    1. Why use selections?
      4m 20s
    2. Selecting with the marquee tools
      3m 56s
    3. Selecting with the lasso tools
      6m 40s
    4. Selecting by color and tone
      6m 22s
    5. Refining a selection
      4m 51s
    6. Selecting hair
      5m 42s
    7. Hiding content with a layer mask
      6m 37s
  5. 46m 54s
    1. Why use adjustment layers?
      5m 15s
    2. Adjusting color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 32s
    3. Correcting lighting with a Levels adjustment layer
      3m 32s
    4. Adjusting part of an image with an adjustment layer
      5m 19s
    5. Exploring auto adjustments
      3m 55s
    6. Improving shadows and highlights
      2m 14s
    7. Removing a color cast
      1m 47s
    8. Fine-tuning with Color Curves
      3m 16s
    9. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    10. Correcting camera distortion
      5m 32s
    11. Reducing noise
      2m 56s
    12. Sharpening
      6m 10s
  6. 20m 51s
    1. Creating a panorama
      5m 6s
    2. Merging bracketed exposures
      6m 0s
    3. Removing people from a scene
      5m 25s
    4. Combining group shots
      4m 20s
  7. 29m 24s
    1. Removing blemishes
      3m 42s
    2. Reducing wrinkles and circles
      4m 16s
    3. Enhancing eyes
      5m 19s
    4. Removing red-eye
      3m 15s
    5. Adjusting skin tone
      2m 21s
    6. Removing dust spots
      4m 7s
    7. Removing content
      6m 24s
  8. 52m 36s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      5m 18s
    2. Using the latest Camera Raw controls
      3m 16s
    3. Camera Raw basics
      6m 22s
    4. Making use of the histogram
      3m 45s
    5. Setting white balance
      3m 44s
    6. Adjusting lighting
      4m 28s
    7. Adjusting color saturation
      2m 9s
    8. Cropping and straightening
      3m 58s
    9. Reducing noise
      3m 33s
    10. Sharpening
      3m 38s
    11. Synchronizing edits to multiple photos
      3m 36s
    12. Outputting from Camera Raw
      6m 14s
    13. Using Camera Raw with JPEGs
      2m 35s
  9. 48s
    1. Next steps
      48s

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