White balance is one of the central image adjustments in any photo editing workflow. Here’s how the white balance tools in Lightroom CC work.
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1 Edit button
Click this to open the Edit tools sidebar. This is where most of Lightroom CC’s editing tools are found.
2 Color panel
The Lightroom Edit panels expand and collapse so that you can make the most of the available screen space. Just click on the Color heading to expand the panel.
3 White Balance menu
The drop-down White balance menu offers a choice of preset white balance settings. These look similar to those you get on the camera but they are calibrated by Adobe and may not give the same results. If you manually adjust the white balance with the Temperature and Tint sliders, or use the White Balance Selector (eyedropper), the menu will display Custom, as here. The As Shot setting will use the white balance settings embedded by the camera, while Auto will attempt to produce a neutral color balance, just like Auto white balance on a camera. If you are editing a JPEG rather than a RAW file, the white balance presets will not be visible because the image has already been processed – you will only see As Shot, Auto and Custom.
4 White Balance Selector (eyedropper)
Use this to click on an area of the image that should be a neutral tone. It may take a few attempts to find a suitable area that doesn’t over-correct the colors or make them look unnatural. Here, the tool left the image looking a little cold, so that was fixed with a manual adjustment to the Temperature slider.
5 Temperature and Tint
These sliders offer manual control over the Temperature and Tint values used for white balance adjustments by cameras and software. If you are working with a RAW file they will show absolute values, e.g. degrees Kelvin for Temperature. If you are editing a JPEG, they will simply show relative values.
6 Vibrance and Saturation
These are not connected to the white balance settings but are displayed here as generic color adjustments. They work slightly differently: Saturation boosts the strength of all colors equally, even those which are already strongly saturated; Vibrance boosts weaker colors more than stronger ones. Neither adjustment is ‘best’, exactly, as it all depends on the image, how it responds to adjustments and the colors in the photo. Often, the best results come from combining both.
Lightroom CC white balance tips
- It’s tempting to take the easy option and set the camera’s white balance to Auto with the aim of fixing it later in Lightroom if you need to. This can just create more work, though, and Lightroom’s white balance presets may not be effective as the camera’s.
- Shoot RAW not JPEGs – at least, do this if you like to make white balance decisions later. This is not essential for regular outdoor photography, but indoor lighting often needs careful white balance adjustments you can’t predict in-camera.
- You CAN make white balance adjustments to JPEGs, but remember that you are working with images where a great deal of color data has already been discarded, based on the white balance setting chosen on the camera. It’s not a disaster, but it’s not ideal.