White Balance: Photoshop fixes and in-camera solutions for any situation

Correcting white balance in Adobe Camera Raw

Using white balance in mixed lighting

Most situations don’t conform to one colour temperature, and you’ll often find yourself photographing in mixed lighting, such as sunlight and shade.

You can either rely on Auto White Balance to choose a setting, or use a preset for the dominant light source. Shooting raw enables you to produce versions of the image with different white balance settings that can then be blended together.

White balance in mixed lighting: shade

Shade
Here, the white balance has been set to Daylight, meaning the sunlit side has the correct colour balance. The side in shadow is rendered with a blue tone as a result

White balance in mixed lighting: sun

Daylight
In this image it’s been set to Shade, so the right side of the image is neutral. The sunlit side is too ‘warm’. The left image feels more natural, as we expect shadows to be ‘cooler’

Dealing with mixed lighting on the computer

Dealing with mixed lighting on the computer

Scenes aren’t always illuminated by just one light source, which means that a global white balance adjustment may not produce the result you want. If you’re using Photoshop, you can use the selective adjustment tools in Camera Raw to edit the white balance in specific areas.

The shaded area in this shot of a tiger, for example, looks cool, while the background is warm, so we’ve used the Adjustment Brush to select the shaded area, then adjusted the Temperature to produce a warmer, more pleasing result.

You can do a similar thing with the Graduated Filter tool, for example, to adjust the colour of a sky.

PAGE 1: What is white balance?
PAGE 2: Correcting white balance in-camera
PAGE 3: Using white balance in mixed lighting
PAGE 4: Correcting white balance in Photoshop & Adobe Camera Raw
PAGE 5: Why it’s OK to use the ‘wrong’ white balance setting

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