Learning and training your eye to see color and subtle white balance inconsistencies takes time and practice. HOWEVER I have a quick and easy tip to help you get better color balanced images faster!
It's all about those clean/bright whites and dark/rich blacks. If you can see the subtle colors showing in your whites and blacks or at least identify them... you can fix your white balance with ease! So I am going to show you how to identify those colors with a tool if you aren't great at seeing them with your eyes alone.
Open Lightroom and let's walk through this together.
Find an image that has a clear white and black point - like a wedding portrait. Her white dress will be the key here to easily learn this trick!
I am going to use the image below of my bride and groom in the woods to work with and it has absolutely ZERO adjustments to start. It is SOOC ( or "straight out of camera" if you have never seen that acronym before).
In this image, her dress should be white, and as you start to train your eye to see color, you will see that it is currently blue and purple and my white balance needs some tweaking to warm it back up. BUT if you can't see that clearly right away here is the trick:
Use the LUMINANCE slider tool to identify the problem colors.
Here is How:
- You want to go to the HSL panel in the Develop module and find the little circle in the left corner by LUMINANCE.
- Click that circle so that it now looks like it has little arrows on top and bottom. (Like the image to the left--->)
- After clicking that circle, your mouse will now have a little circle with arrows that shows up when you hover over the picture and you can pick any spot/color in the photo and click and hold while dragging up or down. You will see that LR is now raising or lowering the luminance of that particular color. So we are going to do that on top of her white dress to see which color is showing up instead of a nice clean white.
- When I click and pull up on my image, I see that it is adjusting the blue and purple sliders so my temperature of my picture is too cool and I now know that I need to bump UP my white balance or move it more towards the yellow side. Because we get rid of the blue that is showing up in my whites, by WARMING up the image.
- Now I am going to scroll up to the basic controls and bump my white balance up (to be warmer) and I am going to bump up my exposure a bit and let's see how much cleaner that white dress gets!
Now this image is starting to look much better, right??? We identified that our image was too cool and had too much blue in it so we bumped up our white balance and exposure and ta-da! It is starting to look cleaner, and brighter.
- IF I had done the same thing and my luminance slider was changing the yellows, then that would tell me that I needed to cool my white balance down or pull it more towards the left/blue side. Does that make sense?
There is still a bit of editing to be done to this image to get to my final product & style (like applying a preset and tweaking), but this was a quick and easy tutorial for learning how to see color and how to adjust your white balance if you don't know where to start! You can also do the same thing to a black tux. What colors are hiding in that tux? If your tux has too much blue in it, warm that puppy up. If the tux is showing some orange in it, cool your image down. Use that luminance slider to help you see what colors need to be toned down or counterbalanced. That tool is amazing and will quickly become your best friend!
Freebie Tip : You can also use that tool to brighten your skin tones by increasing the yellows/oranges or make a certain color (like bridesmaid dresses or navy tuxes) richer by decreasing the luminance!
In case you are interested, here is my before and after of this image! Enjoy!
Final Editing Adjustments For My Style - Applied Mastin FUJI 400 Preset, Bumped up Exposure, Warmed it up, Added some magenta, J-Trick in the tone curve, and Bumped up the orange luminance. That's all!
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