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Using the White Balance Tool

Adjust color warmth with White Balance.

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What is White Balance?

White Balance generally refers to color warmth, or color balance. “Warm” color is skewed towards orange, while “Cool” color is skewed toward blue.

Human vision is constantly adjusting the color balance of what we see to help us make sense of the world around us. (“The dress” photo made us all aware of this in 2015) In order to reproduce what we see, cameras have to do this as well. By balancing the 3 color channels so that white objects appear white, the rest of the image usually looks natural, hence the name “White Balance.”

The tool itself has 2 controls: Temperature and Tint. Temperature is the most commonly used, and it moves between cooler and warmer balance. Tint moves between greener and redder balance.

White Balance is now handled automatically by our modern smartphone cameras, but they don’t always capture what we saw. The White Balance toolmceclip0.jpg allows you to adjust the color balance of your images and videos both for correction and expression.

Where it is:

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Why would you use it?

We experience varying light temperatures every day in the cycles of day and night, and thus we have emotional connections to various light temperatures. Color is also a very emotional and personal experience and we all have life experiences with different colors and color balances. Therefore, changing the white balance of an image can alter the feeling it conveys. For example:

Warm: Cozy, intimate, calm, hot, joyful, serene

Neutral: Bright, energetic

Cool: Crisp, cold, grief, sadness

Green: Fear, terror, sickly, lush (for plants), evil (ever noticed that nearly every villain in movies is surrounded by green?)

Magenta: Disgust, loathing, anger

White Balance takes time to get confident with, so here are some examples of putting it to good use:

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Here, we start with an image shot through a window that seems unnaturally blue-ish. First, we increase Temperature to correct this, but now it also looks too green. Next, we increase tint to correct for the green and the colors look much more natural now.

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Here is an image that is already natural-looking, but turning it more blue adds to the cold feeling of ice, giving it a Winter feel. Making it warmer makes it feel like a hot day, and the image seems to be about the ice melting.

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Here we start with an image that is a bit green to start with, so we correct with the Tint tool for more realistic skin tone. However, going the other way and turning it more green creates a more sinister feel that totally changes the feel of the image.

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Here, we start with an image that could be considered too warm, as the skin appears a bit orange. Cooling it down with the Temperature creates a more natural color, but perhaps the orange tone is desired. In that case, boosting Temperature toward orange creates an extremely warm image with an equally appealing but different quality.

Tips & Tricks:

1. Typically, White Balancemceclip0.jpg is one of the first steps in an editing workflow if your image requires it.

2. Try starting with the Temperature control, then try the Tint control.

3. Scenes that cameras commonly white balance wrong are dominant in one color that is over corrected, such as white snow (too cool), orange sunsets (too cool, too green), green forests (too magenta), and images shot through windows (too green, too cool).

4. Many presets have an effect on color balance. If the change is unwanted, you can correct the color balance of the preset with the White Balance toolmceclip0.jpg after it’s applied.

5. The Warmthwarmth-icon.jpgcontrol in Film X is similar, but different to the Temperature control in the White Balance toolmceclip0.jpg. Warmthwarmth-icon.jpg is emulating white balancing on a film scanner, which is part of the modeling of the film itself, while Temperaturemceclip0.jpg is a digital operation simulating what our eyes do. Try both to see which you prefer. You can also try pitting them against each other for unique looks, such as cool white balance and positive Film X Warmth or visa versa.

6. Double tapping the slider returns it to 0.

7. Skin tone is especially impacted by white balance. Typically, warmer white balance looks best on most people. Skin tone is often balanced too magenta, so pushing the Tint control down can help sometimes as well.