Simple (!!!) white balance in Photoshop for dummies

White balance in Photoshop - quick and easy

I was just about to start doing my monthly tax, but I have a short article to finish quickly. Why? Because - after many years of Photoshop experience - I've learned a trick that makes my life a lot easier. It's about white balance and how to remove a color cast in Photoshop.

If you don't want to read the full story of this post now, here are the short instructions:

  1. Open photo in Photoshop (it does NOT have to be raw!)
  2. under "Filter" open the "Camera Raw-Filter" (SHIFT + CMD + A)
  3. select the pipette at the point "white balance"
  4. As an alternative to the pipette, you can also use "Automatic" in the selection field
  5. Now click on a point in the picture that should be neutral gray or white

By the way, my screenshots are based on Adobe Photoshop CC 2020. The buttons and window contents may look different in older versions of Photoshop.

With the Camera Raw Filter, I can now get the white balance in Photoshop with two or three clicks. It is a shame that I only found denkWeg now!

With the Camera Raw Filter, I can now get the white balance in Photoshop with two or three clicks. It's a shame that I've only found my way now!

My usual way: Auto Color and Auto Tint

Since I had to correct a few photos myself that I took with the iPhone in artificial light, I wanted to see if there wasn't an easy way to do this in Photoshop. So far I have always worked with auto color (CMD + SHIFT + B) and auto color (CMD + SHIFT + I) and, if necessary, helped manually with the tonal value correction if the result was too bad.

Keyboard shortcuts for my "old" way:

  • Auto color: CMD + SHIFT + B
  • Auto-Tint: CMD + SHIFT + I

The results with this method are sometimes ok, but sometimes unusable because the colors are "otherwise wrong".

Lots of overly complicated tutorials on the internet

After 30 minutes of Googling, however, I wasn't any smarter. There are so many tutorials out there, and amazingly, they are all different. Some work with tonal correction and gradation curves, while others get the result with adjustment layers, average blur and many other actions. In a tutorial you had to find a 50% gray tone in the photo, which rarely happens in practice if you are not working with a color chart or a gray wedge. In short: there are hardly any really simple instructions.

If you want to get a color chart for the right exposure, you can get the cheap bundle of color chart and Stepped gray wedge from BIG take a look or take a look at the more expensive but very well-rated ones X-Rite color chart toss.

If you choose the way via the tonal value correction and define the white point, bright areas are often overexposed and lose any structure. Before that, you could still see the manufacturer's logo on the connector.

Why tonal value correction only helps to a limited extent

A halfway brisk way leads over the white pipette in the window "Tonal value correction". You select this and then click on the white pipette. Now you click with the pipette on a spot in the picture that should actually be completely white. An automatic tonal value correction is now carried out, in which the entire photo is changed to such an extent that this spot appears white.

The disadvantage of this method is that photos often get too bright because the spot was not 100% white in reality, but everything is clearly brightened by editing - often too much, as you can see in the screenshot above with the plug.

So far, I had also gotten halfway good results with the tonal value correction in Photoshop - but this often made photos much too bright and the light areas are burned out.

So far, I had also gotten halfway good results with the tonal value correction in Photoshop - but this often made photos much too light and the light areas are "burned out".

My new way: Camera Raw filters

I originally thought the Camera Raw filter in Adobe Photoshop was only for editing RAW photos. Today I noticed that you can also call up the filter via the filter menu if you have any other image format open. You can use the keyboard shortcut with CMD + SHIFT + A.

In Photoshop's RAW development module you will find the "White balance" area, where you can use the pipette to select a white or gray area in the image. Photoshop then adjusts the colors accordingly (screenshots: Sir Apfelot).

In Photoshop's RAW development module you will find the "White balance" area, where you can use the pipette to select a white or gray area in the image. Photoshop then adjusts the colors accordingly (screenshots: Sir Apfelot).

This RAW development module is what I think is the best - and most importantly, the easiest - way to remove color casts and get a good white balance.

As already mentioned above, click on the pipette next to the "White balance" item in the RAW module and then select an area in the photo that was white or neutral gray. You can see that in this case nothing changes in the brightness of the image and only the colors are adjusted. I usually click my way through two or three areas until I find the best result.

Update 28.08.2020/XNUMX/XNUMX: It works automatically too!

As an alternative to working with the pipette, you can (according to my reader Klaus) also try the "Automatic" option. With him, that brought the best results.

The photos can be easily brightened using the "Exposure" slider. So I usually find them visually more appealing.

The photos can be easily brightened using the "Exposure" slider. So I usually find them visually more appealing.

Further photo optimization with a regulator

In order to improve the photo a little further, I usually increase the slider for the exposure so that the photo is slightly brightened. With this I get very good results in a few seconds.

I think, especially as a blogger or amateur photographer, it is easier to get useful results than is the case with most other manuals. Anyone who is a photo blogger might have higher expectations, but everyone else should test my way. I am very satisfied with that.

If you still have a few tips for quick photo improvement, I would be happy if you share them here!

 

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4 comments

  1. thingy says:

    Moin
    Like in Lightroom ...
    Regards
    The thing

    • sir appleot says:

      Ah, yes ... that can be. I still edit in Photoshop because I find the workflow faster if you only edit one photo.

  2. Klaus Diemer says:

    The tip with the white balance is great, thank you!
    I tried it with several photos and had the best results with the "Automatic" setting.

    • sir appleot says:

      Well, great, if this thing doesn't just help me. : D I would have to mention that with the automatic in the article.

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