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Correcting white balance

From: Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography

Video: Correcting white balance

Very often, correcting the tone in your image will also fix any color problems. As you've seen, as you increase contrast, you often get a saturation boost; however, some images need more than simple saturation adjustments. Fortunately, a white balance adjustment can often take care of your color issues. White balance is simply the process of calibrating your camera to the type of light that you're shooting in. Different lights shine with different colors, and if your camera's white balance is not set properly, the overall color in your image won't be correct.

Correcting white balance

Very often, correcting the tone in your image will also fix any color problems. As you've seen, as you increase contrast, you often get a saturation boost; however, some images need more than simple saturation adjustments. Fortunately, a white balance adjustment can often take care of your color issues. White balance is simply the process of calibrating your camera to the type of light that you're shooting in. Different lights shine with different colors, and if your camera's white balance is not set properly, the overall color in your image won't be correct.

Most auto white balance mechanisms on today's cameras do a great job shooting in direct sunlight. So, for most landscape photography, you won't have a big white balance problem. However, shooting in shade, or possibly at dusk, can sometimes send the auto white balance mechanism a little bit off. That's happened in this image a little bit. Color isn't bad, and obviously, there's not a tremendous amount of color in the image, but overall the image is a little cool. This is very often how your auto white balance mechanism will go when you're shooting in shade.

I was standing on the down side of a big sand dune, and was shooting predominantly under shade, and it confused my camera. Temperature controls the - white balance is always measured in degrees Kelvin - temperature simply controls where your white balance is set for, and what type of light it is set to shoot in. I'm going to warm up the image, just by sliding this to the right. Right away, with a very small adjustment, I get sand dunes that are back to being a nice, warm dune color. Her flesh tones are much better. She is a redhead. Her hair actually looks more red now.

Let's go before and after. So, it's just generally a nice warmer image. Tint is a very, very subtle adjustment that allows you to shift colors more towards green or magenta. I'm going to do a wild tint adjustment here, just so you can see. Okay, see, it's not always so subtle, if you drag it all the way to left, but it's going to take awhile before you start to see too much change. You'll very rarely use the Tint slider. Temperature is often usually the only white balance control you need to worry about.

I don't do a tremendous amount of color correction on my landscape photos, because in general the camera is getting it right. If I do need an adjustment, it's typically a white balance adjustment. Hit Done to save that. Let's look at another image. This is the Badwater image that we were working with earlier. Let's open it up. Here's an example where I was shooting in bright daylight. The white balance is probably pretty much correct, but I don't like it. There will be times when you will adjust white balance to get the colors looking more correct.

There will also be times when you adjust the white balance purely for your own personal taste. This is not the one where I would like the white balance to be a little warmer. So, I'm going to put it up to about here. Maybe that's too far - right around in there. It warms it up a little bit. It just was a little bleak and stark somehow. I know that's surprising, bleak and stark standing in the middle of a desert. But still, I like it a little warmer this way. There's this White Balance menu up here, which includes presets that Adobe has come up with for different lighting situations.

Let's put it on its daylight setting, which is 5500, and that's looking a little too pink to me, which we could probably back off this Magenta slider and get it back to where it needs to be. Now, it's interesting, typically, people agree that daylight shines at a color temperature of 5500. I'm going to put this back on As Shot, in which case, we could now say, well, the camera didn't get it right. It was off by about 500 degrees Kelvin. But again, sometimes you will adjust white balance according to technical concerns of color accuracy, and sometimes it's just going to be about your own aesthetic and what you would like for the image.

Now, let's address some of the other color issues in this image. I increased the contrast a lot, and in the process of doing that, I brought out some nice detail here, I got the image a little more punchy, but the sky is really blue now, and this stuff is really red. This is just not right, again, for a very pastel-y sort of environment. Saturation lets me increase and decrease color saturation in the image on a global scale. So, I'm going to decrease the saturation. When I do that, I drain a lot of the color out of the image.

I get the sky a little more back under control. I get this a little less red. But again, this is global. I've also lost some of the color that I had introduced with the white balance adjustment. What if I would like to only calm down the sky? I'm going to set Saturation back to 0. If you look at these other tabs over here, you will find the HSL/Grayscale. That's Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. This allows me to adjust Hue, Saturation, and Luminance on specific color ranges. So, I'm going to the switch over to Saturation here.

At this point, I've got a couple of options. I can guess. I can say, well, this is probably blues, so I'm going to drag the Blues slider to the left to desaturate just the sky. Now I've got control of the saturation of the sky, but I haven't drained color out of my foreground. I've also taken some color out of here, because there's a lot of blue in those areas. But there's another way to do this edit. And that's with Camera Raw's Targeted Adjustment tool, which is this little Target thing up here. I'm going to open that up and choose Saturation.

When I do that, I can now go to my image and click in a color and drag left or right to change the saturation of that color. Now, that's a global edit. That is not like a magic wand thing going on there. I'm clicking in the image to identify the color range that I want, and then it's adjusting that color range throughout the image. So, let's also see what happens if we hit this area here. That's hitting some oranges and some yellows. I can calm that down a little bit without affecting my foreground too much.

So, these are some very powerful Color Correction tools that you have in Camera Raw. If you're trying to absolutely, accurately nail the color or something, or do lots of subtle, little color adjustments, these tools can be very, very powerful. Typically, again, my color adjustments and landscape shooting are pretty much limited to saturation concerns, because I'm mostly just playing with how much color I want in an image, and making sure that my white balance is correct. Like Tonal Correction tools, you'll just get a feel for this as you use the sliders more and more.

But also, as with tonal correction, remember that these are global edits. I've shown you how to do a localized color correction here, but there might still be other times when you're wanting to get even more localized correction, and that's what we'll be looking at in the next chapter.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography
Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography

59 video lessons · 22144 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 44s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
  2. 46m 35s
    1. Defining landscape photography
      2m 23s
    2. Considering cameras and gear
      10m 41s
    3. Shooting and composition tips
      6m 39s
    4. Why you should shoot raw instead of JPEG
      4m 25s
    5. Making selects
      10m 42s
    6. Understanding the histogram
      6m 53s
    7. A little color theory
      4m 52s
  3. 1h 14m
    1. Opening an image
      4m 42s
    2. Cropping and straightening
      9m 56s
    3. Nondestructive editing
      6m 23s
    4. Spotting and cleanup
      3m 53s
    5. Cleaning the camera sensor
      11m 17s
    6. Lens correction
      6m 26s
    7. Correcting overexposed highlights
      7m 29s
    8. Basic tonal correction
      5m 45s
    9. Correcting blacks
      11m 54s
    10. Correcting white balance
      6m 35s
  4. 21m 34s
    1. Performing localized edits with the Gradient Filter tool
      7m 24s
    2. Performing localized edits with the Adjustment brush
      7m 54s
    3. Controlling brush and gradient edits
      6m 16s
  5. 16m 34s
    1. Working with noise reduction
      5m 33s
    2. Clarity and sharpening
      5m 23s
    3. Exiting Camera Raw
      5m 38s
  6. 58m 5s
    1. Retouching
      8m 23s
    2. Using Levels adjustment layers
      10m 59s
    3. Saving images with adjustment layers
      4m 18s
    4. Advanced Levels adjustment layers
      9m 36s
    5. Guiding the viewer's eye with Levels
      8m 48s
    6. Using gradient masks for multiple adjustments
      5m 32s
    7. Correcting color in JPEG images
      3m 15s
    8. Adding a vignette
      3m 25s
    9. Knowing when edits have gone too far
      3m 49s
  7. 33m 24s
    1. Preparing to stitch
      5m 59s
    2. Stitching
      7m 39s
    3. Panoramic touchup
      7m 17s
    4. Shooting a panorama
      4m 58s
    5. Stitching a panorama
      7m 31s
  8. 27m 18s
    1. Shooting an HDR Image
      7m 53s
    2. Merging with HDR Pro
      11m 52s
    3. Adjusting and retouching
      7m 33s
  9. 24m 4s
    1. Why use black and white for images?
      2m 26s
    2. Black-and-white conversion
      7m 13s
    3. Correcting tone in black-and-white images
      7m 38s
    4. Adding highlights to black-and-white images
      6m 47s
  10. 49m 32s
    1. Painting light and shadow pt. 1
      11m 22s
    2. Painting light and shadow pt. 2
      12m 42s
    3. Painting light and shadow pt. 3
      9m 19s
    4. HDR + LDR
      5m 7s
    5. Reviewing sample images for inspiration
      11m 2s
  11. 48m 2s
    1. Sizing
      9m 8s
    2. Enlarging and reducing
      5m 3s
    3. Saving
      1m 24s
    4. Sharpening
      8m 23s
    5. Outputting an electronic file
      9m 4s
    6. Making a web gallery
      4m 17s
    7. Printing
      10m 43s
  12. 20s
    1. Goodbye
      20s

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