lightroom 2 – tip #6

As I said in the beginning, these tips were created using a combination of my own experimentation combined with Scott Kelby’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers. I highly recommend this book for anyone learning LR2.

Shooting in RAW allows the white balance of an image to be modified in post processing without compromising image quality. Many professionals and teachers advise that you get it right in the camera despite this. I, on the other hand, prefer to shoot with auto white balance turned on but with a slight warming compensation. This gets me close to where I need to be and prevents me from having to change the setting for every color of light I encounter. When it comes to white balance, I only care about seeing an approximation of the final temperature during image review. The fine-tuning I do in Lightroom 2.

There are essentially two ways to set white balance in Lightroom 2. You can choose a WB preset from the drop down menu to get you started, then use the Temp slider for the rest. This method is best for setting the mood of an image creatively while using your own visual perception as a guide. If you have a color calibrated monitor and are not interested in capturing the color temperature exactly as it was, this is the way to go.

The other method is the White Balance Selector. This is the eye dropper next to the WB sliders. The goal is to click a color in the image that is a neutral gray, preferably light in tone. As you move the dropper around the image you get a loupe view of the pixels with a percentage value for each color channel (RGB). While Scott Kelby recommends turning this loupe view off, I use it to find a light gray where all three percentage values are the most similar. You can also see a preview of what sampling that part of the image will look like in the Navigator window. This method seems to produce the most accurate result. So what happens when there is no gray in the image? You either have to switch to the first method or purchase a gray card for use whenever lighting conditions change. I’ve heard good things about the WhiBal White Balance Reference Card (there is a keychain version).

I find myself using both of these methods, sometimes even in the same image.


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