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Photoshop White Balance Color Correcting Tutorial

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Thread started 21 Jul 2009 (Tuesday) 14:28   
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michillebaker
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Hello Everyone,

I thought i would share a technique that i learned on how to fix the white balance in photos using photoshop. I use it every time i edit it's the first thing i do even if the color looks okay anyways.

Hope it's helpful for others like it has been for me ;). I've also will be adding this my tutorial/action blog so it can be found there.

1. Add a new layer either by click on the new layer icon in the layers window or by click on layer - new - layer

2. Fill the new layer with 50% gray. To do this click on edit - fill - 50% gray

3. Change the fill layer to difference mode under the layers window

4. Add an a threshold layer eiether by click on the adjustment layer icon in the layers window or by click on layer - new adjustments layer - threshold

5. Next, in the threshold adjustments window move the adjustment slider clear to the left so that the adjust level is set to 1.

6. Next, Double click in the threshold layer. Move the slider all the way to the left and the image becomes white. Slowly move it back to the right and you will see some black areas reappearing on the image, those are the gray areas in the image. Click Ok.

IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2592/3743030281_fe62af9741_b.jpg

7. Next, click on the color sample tool and then zoom in on the black area that you want to sample and click on that area. I tend to keep the sample size at point sample but some suggest using 3x3. I find better results with the other size.

8. Next, after you have your sample selected delete both the threshold & fill layer and then zoom in on the sample point.

9. Next, create a curves adjustment layer. In the curves Dialog Box take the gray eyedropper and click on the sample point that you just created.

You should now see a big difference in the white balance of your photo.

Here is a before and after to show you how it can improve your photo.

IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2227/3743865418_ddef4a8fab_b.jpg

Post #1, Jul 21, 2009 14:28:05


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HankScorpio
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That's a huge amount of work for something that can be done entirely within the levels panel with a few clicks.

Post #2, Jul 21, 2009 15:42:22


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michillebaker
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Do you mind sharing how you do it in levels with just a few clicks. This processes takes me less then a minute to do and i've found to be the most accurate with correcting white balance but i am always up to new ways ;).

HankScorpio wrote in post #8319861external link
That's a huge amount of work for something that can be done entirely within the levels panel with a few clicks.

Post #3, Jul 21, 2009 16:05:30


Not a pro by any means.. Just enjoy taking pics.
Gear: Canon 60D, Rebel XSi; Canon 50mm ; Canon 55-250mm IS ; Flash: Canon 430ex II with diffuser My Just order sigma 18-50mm :).
My Photo Blogexternal link ; My Actions & Tutorial Blogexternal link ; My flickrexternal link
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PixelMagic
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What you describe is the technique discovered by Dave Cross.... it can easily be recorded as an action. But you have to be careful when deciding on a white point; you want to have an area with details rather than just specularity.

Post #4, Jul 21, 2009 16:38:50


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michillebaker
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Thats right he's the one who created couldn't remember were i found it. Agreed i guess i should have put that with my tutorial. Thanks for pointing that out ;).

PixelMagic wrote in post #8320210external link
What you describe is the technique discovered by Dave Cross.... it can easily be recorded as an action. But you have to be careful when deciding on a white point; you want to have an area with details rather than just specularity.

Post #5, Jul 21, 2009 18:28:21


Not a pro by any means.. Just enjoy taking pics.
Gear: Canon 60D, Rebel XSi; Canon 50mm ; Canon 55-250mm IS ; Flash: Canon 430ex II with diffuser My Just order sigma 18-50mm :).
My Photo Blogexternal link ; My Actions & Tutorial Blogexternal link ; My flickrexternal link
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PixelMagic
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Well....he's a bit touchy on the issue of getting credit: Who did it first?external link

Last night I was looking through a bunch of blogs that I regularly monitor and saw a reference to a technique for finding the neutral gray point in an image with a color cast. Out of curiosity I read the technique and saw that it was the same as a technique I came up with and started showing a few years ago. I kind of half expected/hoped that the writer might say, "Here's a technique that I learned from Dave Cross" but he did not mention anything about where he came up with the idea. Then I searched a little further and found a couple of more tutorials based on this same technique, again with no reference to the source of the idea.

michillebaker wrote in post #8320778external link
Thats right he's the one who created couldn't remember were i found it. Agreed i guess i should have put that with my tutorial. Thanks for pointing that out ;).

Post #6, Jul 21, 2009 22:22:56


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HankScorpio
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michillebaker wrote in post #8319993external link
Do you mind sharing how you do it in levels with just a few clicks. This processes takes me less then a minute to do and i've found to be the most accurate with correcting white balance but i am always up to new ways ;).

As WB is a matter of taste (I find your example a touch too warm) and can't be "accurate" I simply use the grey eyedropper in the levels panel to select an area I want to be neutral and that gets me my desired WB every time.

Post #7, Jul 22, 2009 06:16:08


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wizeguy4
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If WB is a matter of taste and if all RAWs open in ACR before even getting into photoshop, why not open bridge, choose the images shot under the same lighting, hit CTRL R to open ACR from bridge, click the WB tool and click something nuetral, alter the slider to suit since the tool does nto always hit the WB the way I like it, Shift click the rest of the images and alt click sychronize to apply to all images at once, bypassing the need for photoshop and moving thru many images very quickly.

Post #8, Jul 22, 2009 09:35:09


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kirkt
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When you use the dropper tool, you probably want to use an NxN average sample to avoid sampling color noise at the single pixel level, where N will depend on the number of pixels in your image.

Post #9, Jul 22, 2009 09:38:38


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PixelMagic
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The temporary Threshold layer step detects the exact neutral pixels in the image. I don't know of any other method that does that. So instead of guessing, or reading off the Info panel, the described technique does the work for you.

There are many situations such as an online product catalog, etc. when you want a precise white balance so I disagree that white balance is always just a matter of taste.

wizeguy4 wrote in post #8323975external link
If WB is a matter of taste and if all RAWs open in ACR before even getting into photoshop, why not open bridge, choose the images shot under the same lighting, hit CTRL R to open ACR from bridge, click the WB tool and click something nuetral, alter the slider to suit since the tool does nto always hit the WB the way I like it, Shift click the rest of the images and alt click sychronize to apply to all images at once, bypassing the need for photoshop and moving thru many images very quickly.

Post #10, Jul 22, 2009 10:31:46


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Titus213
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HankScorpio wrote in post #8323205external link
As WB is a matter of taste (I find your example a touch too warm) and can't be "accurate" I simply use the grey eyedropper in the levels panel to select an area I want to be neutral and that gets me my desired WB every time.

Tell that to an artist who wants copies of a painting for archive and/or jury submission.

Post #11, Jul 22, 2009 12:10:49


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HankScorpio
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Titus213 wrote in post #8324846external link
Tell that to an artist who wants copies of a painting for archive and/or jury submission.

Accurate digital copies are not the same as photographs.

Post #12, Jul 22, 2009 12:18:37


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michillebaker
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Actually i just printed this photo out and it doesn't look to warm to me, but like you said it's all a matter of taste. I just posted this tutorial because I've been having a lot of luck with my photo's looking more color accurate when I print them and didn't know if anyone else would of liked to use this technique ;). Oh well it works for me and thats all that matter ;).

HankScorpio wrote in post #8323205external link
As WB is a matter of taste (I find your example a touch too warm) and can't be "accurate" I simply use the grey eyedropper in the levels panel to select an area I want to be neutral and that gets me my desired WB every time.

Post #13, Jul 23, 2009 06:03:16


Not a pro by any means.. Just enjoy taking pics.
Gear: Canon 60D, Rebel XSi; Canon 50mm ; Canon 55-250mm IS ; Flash: Canon 430ex II with diffuser My Just order sigma 18-50mm :).
My Photo Blogexternal link ; My Actions & Tutorial Blogexternal link ; My flickrexternal link
http://michilles-photography.blogspot.c​om/external link

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Dave ­ R.
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michillebaker wrote in post #8329273external link
Actually i just printed this photo out and it doesn't look to warm to me, but like you said it's all a matter of taste. I just posted this tutorial because I've been having a lot of luck with my photo's looking more color accurate when I print them and didn't know if anyone else would of liked to use this technique ;). Oh well it works for me and thats all that matter ;).

Thanks for bringing this technique to the surface again. I had forgotten about it and this is a good reminder. WB is a matter of taste and being able to experiment with different methods is intersting to me. You are completely correct in your comment " Oh well it works for me and thats all that matter". Thanks again.

Post #14, Jul 23, 2009 07:49:25




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koprivakopriva
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Not to be arrogant, and believe me I'm nowhere near good enough to be such a thing, but I actually prefer the white balance in the first picture. I think that the slightly paler skin complements the youth and innocence of the child. At times, white balance can be a crucial variable in a picture, but in most situations, especially regarding candids, it's not an end-all be-all. I like the shot! It is a very nice technique, as well. May I ask how all of that could be summarized in an "action". Excuse my incompetence haha.

Post #15, Jul 23, 2009 08:57:36


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