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Chapter Four. Using Photoshop Camera Raw > Setting the White Balance

#28. Setting the White Balance

A correct White Balance setting ensures that neutral colors, like grays and white, are actually gray or white rather than tinged with yellow or blue. In addition, by correcting the neutrals, you simultaneously fix any unnatural color shifts that exist in the image.

The Basic tab in the Camera Raw interface has three controls for correcting a color shift in an image: White Balance, Temperature, and Tint. From the White Balance menu, choose a specific lighting environment to fine-tune the color balance (Figure 28):

  • As Shot. Uses the White Balance settings chosen by the camera at the moment the picture was taken.

  • Auto. Camera Raw calculates a new white balance based on the image data.

  • Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, or Flash. Camera Raw calculates a new white balance based on the color temperature of the selected lighting condition.

Figure 28. White Balance options.


To fine-tune the white balance, adjust the Temperature and Tint sliders. Adjusting the Temperature slider makes the image warmer or cooler. Adjusting the Tint slider compensates for a green or magenta tint.

Accessing the White Balance setting through the Basic panel to correct white balance works fine; however, one of the quickest and easiest ways to remove color shift in an image is to use the White Balance tool on the main toolbar in Camera Raw. This tool can be used to specify that an object should be white or gray. By doing this, Camera Raw can determine the color of the light in which the scene was shot, and then adjust for scene lighting automatically.

Select the White Balance tool and click on an object in the image that you know should be a neutral gray or white.

Note

When using the White Balance tool and choosing a white area to click, be sure to choose a white area that contains significant white detail rather than a specular (or shiny) highlight. Sometimes selecting an area that is off-white or gray works best.


Tip

You can double-click the White Balance tool icon to reset the white balance to As Shot.


White Balance and the Human Eye

The human eye is incredibly adaptable. Thus, when you first begin to work on digital images, it’s difficult to identify color problems. Consider what happens when you wear sunglasses with a yellow tint. After wearing the glasses for a few moments, you actually stop seeing (or noticing) the yellow color shift, but once you remove the glasses you notice the shift. This is a result of the adaptability of the human eye. Therefore, we need tools like the White Balance tool to help us notice color inconsistencies. Also, an added benefit of using the White Balance tool is that it will train your eye to see color shifts, so you eventually will be able to fix color problems more effectively.


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