Post Shoot Balance

By Roger

Last week, I blogged about getting the correct white balance in your camera.  This is usually my goal, but, if I'm out on a photowalk where the lighting conditions are changing frequently, I'm rarely going to take the time to make several changes to my camera's white balance.  If you find yourself in this situation, you'll need to change things around in post-processing.

When you get your photos into your post-processing software, you can look at the white balance on your big monitor (it's calibrated, right?) and make judgments as to how well you captured the proper light.  If you're a JPG shooter, your camera settings are burned in, but you can still make some adjustments.  I shoot in RAW, so I have the much more latitude in making changes.

Here, I have the camera set for daylight, but the couple is in open shade.  The white balance looks a little cool.

Even with a Daylight setting dialed into the camera, this shot looks a little cool to me

Even with a Daylight setting dialed into the camera, this shot looks a little cool to me

Daylight is about 5500K, and you can see, from the metadata reading, I bumped that up, in camera, to 5850K since I like a little extra warmth when I'm shooting people.  In this case, that still wasn't enough for my taste.

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I can use the White Balance Selector (the eye-dropper) to give Lightroom a chance to set a better white balance.  You look for something close to an 18% gray, click the Selector on that spot, and Lightroom will make an adjustment.  It is usually still too cool for me, so I use the Temp slider and move it to the right until I like the look.

My workflow continues to the other adjustments I want to make to improve the photograph: exposure; contrast; lens correction; sharpness; etc.  After I'm happy with the result, I look for photos that are in similar light and synchronize the settings across the others.  All you need to do is highlight your finished photo first, and then select the others in similar light.  Now push the Sync button and your options come up.  White Balance is in the upper left, the first setting you can choose in the very long list of possibilities for synchronization. 

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This photograph has the additional challenge of the red reflection (from the two flags) on the bride's dress.  I can take that out without going to Photoshop, using the brush tool, but that is a different blog.

You can see the red reflections from the flags on the bride's dress

You can see the red reflections from the flags on the bride's dress

Simply use the Brush  tool to get rid of the reflections.  The change is subtle, but this photo is better without the color contamination

Simply use the Brush  tool to get rid of the reflections.  The change is subtle, but this photo is better without the color contamination

White balance doesn't have to trouble you during your photo shoot.  You just need to keep it in mind during your post-processing for better looking photos.  You can make the changes quickly and easily in post-processing.  Move the sliders until you have the look you want.