One of the holy gospels of digital photography is to shoot in raw format. But let’s face it: there are still times when you’ll want to shoot JPEGs instead of raw files. And when you do, getting the correct white balance is of vital importance because it’s much more difficult to correct white balance in JPEGs on the computer than it is when editing raw files.
That said, there are ways to correct white balance in the JPEG images you have taken. In this quick tutorial we’ll show you how to fix your colour errors and rescue those JPEGs.
Technically, yes, you need to shoot in raw quality mode if you want to alter the white balance of images at the editing stage. Auto white balance isn’t foolproof.
Indeed, the auto setting can give you different results in consecutive shots taken under identical conditions.
While correcting white balance in raw files is easy, all is not lost if you’ve taken pictures in JPEG quality mode. Most major image editing programs have tools for correcting unwanted colour casts, and often give the choice of colour variations to create the look you want.
When adjusting JPEGs, it’s always a good idea to keep a backup copy of the original file, and subsequently copied from your memory card. This is because, unlike editing raw files, any changes you make can’t be undone after saving and closing a JPEG file.
How to correct white balance errors in JPEG images
01 Remove colour cast
From the Enhance pull-down menu, select the Adjust Colour, Remove Colour Cast option. This will give access to corrections, complete with a live preview of effects before you apply them.
02 Eye dropper
Ensure the Preview checkbox is ticked to enable a live update, then use the eyedropper and click on any point in the image that should be black, white or neutral grey.
03 Colour variations
From the Enhance, Adjust Colour menu, this time select Colour Variations. Here you can fine tune colour rendition as well as brightness in mid-tones, shadows and highlights independently.
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