How Can I Adjust White Balance in Lightroom?


I get asked this question all the time. How do I fix a colorcast? It's a good one because adjusting white balance in Adobe Lightroom is an important task that's necessary quite frequently. If someone didn't know how to do this, their resulting photography would suffer. Especially if they were photographing in RAW mode. While the camera chooses and sets the white balance automatically for compressed JPEG images, shooting in RAW is another story all together.

Let me start at the beginning. If you would like the perfect white balance every single time, you really should be using a white balance card, or a gray card, as they call them. This is a card that is colored neutral gray. Oftentimes, there are multiple cards in a pack that are colored white, gray and black. Sometimes, there aren't cards at all, but plastic chips of all different colors; the colors of the rainbow as well as the neutral colors.

Basically, to set up the proper white balance, you'd place the gray card somewhere in a sample shot before doing anything else and then after that, you'd go ahead with your shoot. After you've transferred your images from your camera to your computer, you'd select all of your photos and then adjust your white balance in an application such as Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw.

Camera Raw is a great application with which to do this, as is Lightroom. After all, both of these applications use the same engine. They do the same thing.

Okay, here's how you do it. Import your images into Adobe Lightroom. Then, click the Develop tab and open up the Basic panel. Inside the Basic panel, you'll see the White Balance Selector. Click that to activate it.


After you activate this tool, move your mouse out into the image. You should see a color range box like this moving around with your mouse.


As you can see, there's writing in the box. It says, Pick a Target Neutral up top and then has the red, green and blue values down at the bottom. So here's the trick. If you included a gray card in the first sample shot of your scene, all you'd need to do is click on that gray card and your white balance would be set. And colorcast your image had will have been corrected. As it says on the box that's rolling around with your mouse, you should click on something that's neutral. Neutral means that the red, green and blue color values are the same, or almost the same. If you've got a colorcast in your image (everything is leaning towards one color), it's going to be tough to find a color that appears neutral. Even if you roll over your gray card, you'll see different values for each color, when they're supposed to be the same. By clicking on the gray in the card, Lightroom will make those gray values the same, therefore correcting the white balance.

What I usually do when I don't have a gray card available or if I failed to use mine, is I click on something that's supposed to be neutral. I click on whites, blacks and everything in between, as long as whatever I click on isn't supposed to have any color in it. That usually does a pretty good job of removing any color that's not supposed to be in the image.

To check the new neutral area's neutrality, simply roll your mouse over it and take a look at the values in the histogram.


If the RGB values are the same or almost the same, you've got a balanced photo. If they aren't, you still need to white balance it.

If you have any questions, please ask below. I'm always here to help. Thanks!
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