Adjusting White Balance in Lightroom

I think there are always things we can do to improve our skills working in camera. Lighting, composition and other technical details are so important to creating that great shot. Getting your white balance right in digital photography is really important and can help cut down your post production time greatly. We did a overview to understanding white balance in digital photography awhile back for those that need a good refresh on what white balance is. Also if you are looking for how to get a custom white balance in camera head over here: Creating custom white balance in camera.

Today I want to chat about changing the white balance in Lightroom if you didn’t get it perfect in camera. With Lightroom adjusting the color temperature of your image is very quick and easy and there are a few different ways to change the color cast of an image. All three ways we are going to talk about are under the develop settings at the top of the basic tab. There you will see a slider for Temp and Tint as well as a few other buttons that will come in handy.

The first thing you can do in this box is change the white balance to one of several presets; Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Florescent, Flash and Custom. white balance in lightroom If you photographed something and had the white balance in your camera set to tungsten on accident while it was in full sun all you have to do is change the drop down here and your done. Most of the time however you will need to customize the white balance to fit that exact scene and will either have to modify the temp and tint slider to get the color just right or use the eye dropper tool. The temp and tint sliders are very sraightforward, if your image is a little blue slide it more to the yellow side to add yellow to the image. I normally use this for small fine tuning of an image. What I do use most in this section though is the eye dropper tool and here is a quick before and after using this.

This image was shot in the shade on a somewhat overcast day. I had the white balance set to Sun and the image out of the camera is very blue and feels cold because of that. I always prefer a warm skin tones and do really favor a lot of yellows in my portrait work.
adjust white balance in lightroom

To quickly fix this I will use the eye dropper tool that is to the left of the Temp slider and with that selected click on a white point of the image. Teeth or the white of someones eyes can sometimes work well for this. Here I clicked on her teeth to sample a white area. You can look at the navigator pane at the top left to get a live preview of what it will look like as you roll the dropper over parts of the photo. Its also best to zoom in on the image since moving slightly from one pixel to the next will make a big difference in the sample point you pick. Using the the pop up grid that shows up to the side of the eye dropper this will show you a close up of the color sample along with the percent of Red, Green and Blue values. Try and get these values close to 100% to get a true white. Once I have something that looks good for my taste in the navigator pane click on it to apply this change.

custom white balance in lightroom

Here the final image now has a much warmer skin tone and really changes the feel of the shot. One of the great things about Lightroom is once you dial in the color for one of your images any other photo that was taken under the same lighting conditions can very quickly be matched to that image. Just select the photo you just changed, shift click to the last photo that is within the same lighting conditions and then click the “Sync” button at the bottom right of the screen. This will apply the same settings to all of the photos so the color balance will be consistent. Within a matter of minutes you can have hundreds of images color corrected!

Do you have a specific Lightroom (or other photo) question? Leave us a note in the comments below, we love to hear from you.

lightroom color correction

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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5 Comments

  1. Hi. I have Lightroom 3.3, just bought it today, and I wanted to change White Balance, but I can’t find any of these presets: Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Florescent, Flash, all I have is: As Shot, Auto and Custom. Can you help me set my Lightroom so I have those other White Balance Options?

  2. Hi Mia,

    Are you shooting in RAW or Jpeg? When you photography in RAW you will have all of the options I listed available however when photographing in jpeg it won’t allow you to change the white balance after the fact to another preset, you would have to do it manually. There are many positive reasons for photographing in RAW and really no downsides (other than a few extra dollars for storage since the images are larger).

    Thanks,
    Mark

  3. Hi,

    Once i correct the colour balance on the first photograph of a batch of photo’s taken under the same lighting conditions how do i apply the correction to the rest of the images in lightroom 4,
    I included the X-Right Colour Checker Passport in the frame of the first image.

  4. Hi John,

    When you are on the images you finished correcting, just shift click to select a group of images and then click the Sync button on the bottom right.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  5. Why does camera raw 7.1 sometimes show the white balance temperature number (e.g., 5500) and other times, it just gives you a slider with a positive and negative number… I’m dumbfounded

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