It's very tempting to imagine that if you shoot everything in raw then you can fix things like white balance later rather than having to figure it out when you shoot. That's true up to a point, but all you're really doing is postponing the job till later – and even though modern white balance systems are pretty good, they can still throw you a curved ball now and again.
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• 15 common photo fixes
We're looking at a whole series of essential photo fixes that you can carry out in software, especially since the world coronavirus crisis has left many of us stuck indoors and looking for new ways to occupy our time. So if you can't get outside to take pictures, maybe the next best thing is to go through your back catalog and fix up some of the ones you already have?
In this instalment we'll show you what you can do when your camera's color rendition isn't at all what you expected!
Color correction with white balance and curves
A color cast can easily be fixed in Camera Raw/Lightroom or Photoshop, although it’s best done in the raw editor: this gives you the flexibility to alter the white balance (especially if the image is a raw file, as you can change white balance afterwards).
Simply grab the White Balance tool and click over part of the image you know should be neutral, such as a white wall or a grey rock. You can drag to form a box and sample the average of a wider area if you like.
As for the Photoshop method, add a Curves Adjustment Layer, grab the midpoint eyedropper from the side of the Curves settings, then click over a neutral point.
Color cast: This is where a picture has taken on an unnatural color and has an overall shift (or 'cast') towards blue, for example. Very often a color cast is caused by an incorrect white balance setting.
White balance: The color of the light changes constantly, so that while regular noonday sunlight is neutral in tone, for example, artificial or incandescent has a strong yellow/orange tone. Digital cameras offer a white balance setting to counteract these different light sources to produce neutral colors regardless of the conditions.
Next instalment: #9 The background is too sharp
If you don't use Photoshop or Lightroom, why not sign up for the trial version? You can use this free for a period of 7 days and then decide which of three Photography Plan subscriptions would suit you best.