Unless we use precise adjustments or a grey card, some cameras tend to make the white balance a little off. This especially holds true for phone cameras, and I must admit that my Nikon doesn’t do a great job in some conditions, either. But it can be an easy fix. In fact, there are several ways to make it just right, and Cristi Kerekes presents you with three of them that he finds the simplest and the most helpful.
1. “The beginner’s method”
Convert the image layer into a smart object and go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter. You’ll see the eye dropper under the “White Balance” card. Click on it and then select the area in the photo that is supposed to be gray or white. This a similar method to the one I sometimes use in Lightroom in case I have a white or gray area ion the image. This isn’t always the case, but read on to learn what to do with photos like that.
Create a Curves adjustment layer on top of your image. Go to properties and click on the icon in the upper right corner to see more options.
Click on the “Show Clipping for Black/White Points.” Now open the Red channel and drag the input point to the right until you start to see black areas. If necessary, also drag the output point to the left until red areas start appearing. Now do the same thing for the Green and the Blue channel. This will remove the color cast and make the colors in the image more natural.
There is a way to make this process automatic. When you create the Curves adjustment layer, go to Auto Options and check “Snap Neutral Midtones.” Test out the options above to see which works best, and for Cristi it’s usually “Enhance Per Channel Contrast.”
3. Curves and Solid Color
This method works best if you don’t have a white area in your image or if neither of the previous methods work. It starts with a Curves adjustment layer on top of your image. On top of it, add a Solid Color adjustment layer that should be 50% gray (enter #808080 for the color code). Set this Solid Color layer on Difference blending mode and it will show you the closest areas to grey on the original image.
Now add a Threshold adjustment layer. Push the handle all the way to the left and then slowly slide it back to the right until black areas start to appear. These are the above mentioned grey areas, and it’s way easier to see them this way. Now go back to that Curves adjustment layer, select the middle eye dropper and click on a black area in your image. Turn off the Solid Color and the Threshold adjustment layers, and you’ll see the result.
I must admit that I never use Photoshop to fix white balance. I always do it in Lightroom, I guess it’s a matter of habit, and I find it super-intuitive. But it’s always good to learn some new techniques, and I definitely did after watching this video.
How do you fix white balance? And do you use Lightroom or Photoshop (or something else)?