The Benefits Of Adjustment Tool White Balance In Lightroom 4 - Digital Photography School
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The Benefits Of Adjustment Tool White Balance In Lightroom 4

While the official version of Lightroom 4 is not out yet, I feel comfortable pointing out one change that is sure to make it in the final product; the ability to change white balance while using the Gradient Filter or Adjustment Brush.  I have been waiting for this feature for a while to help balance scenes with two different light sources. Until now, it has been easiest (at least in Lightroom and not going into Photoshop) to tend toward a blue cast, for instance, by choosing a tungsten or fluorescent light source and gradually backing out the blue by changing the blue saturation. The results were marginal at best and often I went into Photoshop to complete the work anyway.

With the introduction of this ability (along with the option to change Moiré, Noise and Sharpness for the masked area) comes a new level of control and balance that is very welcome. Often the changes I am looking for are broad and can be painted with the Gradient Filter and if a more exacting cleanup is needed, the Adjustment Brush has the same controls. Let me show you how it works in practice.

I’ll start with this image of a romantic dinner setting on the beach out front of Velas Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico shot last night. (Click on images for larger versions.) This shot was taken with a Canon 7D and Canon EF 10-22mm lens. The settings were ISO 100, 10mm, f/10 and 1/40th of a second. I used a Singh-Ray Daryl Benson ND-3 Reverse Gradient filter to hold the sun’s brightness in check.

DPS1

The white balance, chosen by the camera at time of shooting is 5150, which works well for the sky and the sun as it sets. I want to preserve that aspect and coloring. But the chairs and table cloth show an obvious tint from the shade light cast on them from reflected sunlight.

What I do next is to open the Gradient Filter tool and choose a transition from bottom to top that just covers the water and fades marginally.

DPS2

My default is set to increase the Exposure by a stop and this helps with the lighting. So far so good and I like the balance. Now I start to play around with the color temperature. It is the first slider on the right, labeled “Temp”. I want to remove the blue cast and find a good medium. I settle on 81 for the Temperature, a pretty big slide toward yellow (or a higher temperature on the Kelvin scale).

DPS3

What this has done is warm up the foreground and take away much of the blue cast. The reason I went this route and did not instead change the overall image temperature, is because I wanted to preserve the blue in the sky. Changing the overall image temperature would have removed the blue, which I will later saturate a bit more to match what I saw that evening.

Further, the tint is a little too magenta for my liking. I create a second gradient that is tightly narrowed to the line between the sand and the sea. I do this because when I change the tint for my original gradient, the sea becomes too green. With this second crop, I only adjust the tint to -41 to remove the magenta from the lower half.

DPS4

One last step in this temperature and tint realm. Because of that gradient, the silks around the posts have a two tone look; the top is more magenta and the bottom is more green. I want to balance this out. So I switch to the Adjustment Brush and, using the Auto Mask feature, I paint in the bottom halves of the silks and adjust the tint to 32 to balance the scene.

DPS5

With a few more adjustments to the sky and overall exposure, I end with the final product:

PeterWestCarey-Mexico2012-20120228-165905-2622

Here is one more example from the previous evening’s sunset. Start:

PeterWestCarey-Mexico-20120227-165800-2214-4

Add Gradient Filter and some exposure (the blue in the water is now more obvious):

PeterWestCarey-Mexico-20120227-165800-2214-2

Remove the color cast by adjusting Temp:

PeterWestCarey-Mexico-20120227-165800-2214-3

Final image after more adjustments:

PeterWestCarey-Mexico-20120227-165800-2214

It’s one more reason why Lighhtroom 4 is proving to be a useful upgrade from Lightroom 3.

Disclaimer: While Velas Vallarta hosted me for this trip to Puerto Vallarta, I always retain full editorial control over what I post and where. Further disclaimer: No, I didn’t get to eat dinner on the beach at that nice setting, but sure wish I had!

Read more from our Post Production category.

Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • Charlie

    Thank you very much for this. I have some sunsets that I’ve been trying to figure out and this has been very helpful. I might have to get that LR4 trial just to check it out.

  • Javaslinger

    Great article! I can’t wait for Lightroom 4! Seems a much bigger improvement than Lightroom 2 to 3 was…

    Books, videos, soft proofing, etc, etc, and more etc’s!!

  • Stanley H-O

    This makes me regret getting Aperture 3 when I got a new laptop in 2010…

  • Tim0962

    So far I am loving “Lightroom 4 Beta”. Thanks for the lesson Peter. Now to go and do some practise.

  • Fred

    Thanks. love it that you gave a straight forward non techno description of what sliders were used on what portion of the image. I’ve been beta testing LR$ too and love the shadows slider. Only issue is I have allot of crashes. Tip save frequently.

  • Darren

    Interesting, no nonsense articel. Thanks

  • Tim0962

    Well Lightroom 4 is now available for purchase. I have been using the Beta version for a few weeks and love it. My problem is why does it cost $100.00 more to purchase in Australia? What extra’s are we getting?

  • http://www.pixilstudio.com bryan

    great tutorual thank you

  • http://www.conner-photography.com Joel Conner

    THanks for the blog! I still am holding off upgrading…know it must happen soon, though

  • Alexx
  • Martin

    Very interesting. I think that it is now time to move over from Nikon Capture NX2 to LR4, especially as Adobe have reduced the price to £99. Perhaps they could do the same with PS CS6?

Some older comments

  • Martin

    May 5, 2012 02:48 am

    Very interesting. I think that it is now time to move over from Nikon Capture NX2 to LR4, especially as Adobe have reduced the price to £99. Perhaps they could do the same with PS CS6?

  • Alexx

    March 17, 2012 05:40 pm

    Love Lightroom 4!

    http://disney-photography-blog.blogspot.com/2012/03/daily-snap-1.html

  • Joel Conner

    March 15, 2012 07:52 am

    THanks for the blog! I still am holding off upgrading...know it must happen soon, though

  • bryan

    March 11, 2012 11:34 am

    great tutorual thank you

  • Tim0962

    March 7, 2012 12:08 pm

    Well Lightroom 4 is now available for purchase. I have been using the Beta version for a few weeks and love it. My problem is why does it cost $100.00 more to purchase in Australia? What extra's are we getting?

  • Darren

    March 3, 2012 01:20 am

    Interesting, no nonsense articel. Thanks

  • Fred

    March 2, 2012 10:11 am

    Thanks. love it that you gave a straight forward non techno description of what sliders were used on what portion of the image. I've been beta testing LR$ too and love the shadows slider. Only issue is I have allot of crashes. Tip save frequently.

  • Tim0962

    March 2, 2012 09:59 am

    So far I am loving "Lightroom 4 Beta". Thanks for the lesson Peter. Now to go and do some practise.

  • Stanley H-O

    March 2, 2012 09:36 am

    This makes me regret getting Aperture 3 when I got a new laptop in 2010...

  • Javaslinger

    March 2, 2012 06:42 am

    Great article! I can't wait for Lightroom 4! Seems a much bigger improvement than Lightroom 2 to 3 was...

    Books, videos, soft proofing, etc, etc, and more etc's!!

  • Charlie

    March 2, 2012 02:07 am

    Thank you very much for this. I have some sunsets that I've been trying to figure out and this has been very helpful. I might have to get that LR4 trial just to check it out.

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