Lightroom Tip#18: The White Balance Selector

I was working on a group of images this weekend when I realized I had forgotten about the White Balance Selector in Lightroom 2. Sure, you can spend time sliding the temperature slider around until you get what you want, but that doesn’t give you an efficient starting point. More importantly, all digital cameras can have different temperatures for a series of images, even if they are effectively the same image. In this tip, I will show you how to easily use the White Balance Selector and get a great starting point for adjusting your images

First, let’s take a look at where this tool is. True to Adobe and Lightroom, we have a dropper. Side Note: I dont’ know the history of the dropper, only that CS3 and other programs use it and I really like the metaphor.

The Basic panel is the first panel underneath the histogram in the Develop module. The dropper to the left of the temperature and tint sliders is called the White Balance Selector. Clicking on this dropper will activate the tool and change the cursor to a dropper. Moving the mouse over the image will provide a display similar to the one below.

Notice the enlarged grid below the dropper. This grid shows pixels surrounding the dropper on the image. It also gives percentages of the component Red, Green and Blue hues that make up that pixel. Try to find a slightly lighter than Middle Grey grey. This would be represented as a color close to 50%, 50% and 50% of Red, Green and Blue. After finding one and hovering over the pixel with the dropper, click with the mouse to set the White Balance. See how the temperature slider changes to a new value and the WB: selector is set to ‘custom.’

This results in the white balance adjustment you see below. The image on the right has been adjusted and the image on the left was ‘as shot.’ Notice the blue tint on the door in the original white balance. Notice how the temperature increases removing the bluish tint.

This is only one example. There are many times when shooting images of snow, or shade that the temperature is much further away from a desired level. The key to this tip is quickly getting to a starting point and adjusting from there.

Once you find a white balance for an image in a sequence, you can copy the white balance setting among the whole group of images so that they are the same temperature.

One final note. This isn’t the only eye-dropper in the Develop module of Lightroom 2! We will create some more tips for how to use the other shortcuts away from the sliders. Enjoy!

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