Secret White Balance Trick for Photoshop

There are many ways to adjust white balance. From adjusting it in camera, using a grey card, or adjusting it in post, it really depends on the situation you are in and your personal preference. Personally, I always shoot RAW and keep the white balance setting on my camera on auto almost all of the time. This way, I don’t have to fiddle with it in camera and the camera gets it right most of the time. If by some chance the camera does get it wrong, I will take it off the auto setting and find the setting that works best for the light that I am it, but still knowing that because I am shooting RAW, I can always make the adjustments in Lightroom or camera RAW. 
 
Interestingly enough, if Lightroom isn’t your thing or your having trouble getting an accurate white balance here is a trick for adjusting the white balance in Photoshop. According to the tutorial you can create an accurate white balance by sampling in the midtones, using a grey point. Create a new layer, and fill with 50% grey, set the blending mode to difference. Next, create a threshold adjustment layer and drag the slider to the left until you see just a few areas that are highlighted in black. Select the color sample tool and click the of one of the black areas that you remember was grey and also directly lit (this is closest to 50% grey). Then hide the grey and threshold layers and select a curves adjustment layer. Using the grey point sample tool, (in the middle) click on the sample point from earlier. This should create an accurate white balance. Finally, remove your original saved sample point and feast your eyes on white balance perfection. 
 
Personally, I think there are easier ways to get the white balance you are looking for but I will give it a try. What are your favorite ways to achieve white balance perfection? Feel free to let us know your process in the comments below.
 
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15 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

This changes everything for me. Thanks!

Bert McLendon's picture

Woah! That was cool!

Sean Berry's picture

Wow, that's incredible.

Daniel Segal's picture

This reddit post goes into further detail on how to hone this technique in https://www.reddit.com/r/photography/comments/3g571b/an_editing_question...

Pete W's picture

Not owning Photoshop can be NO fun in a Photoshop dominated world. Quite often it is a challenge translating Photoshop tutorials into other photo-editors. With that said and done I can safely say the technique shown here works just as well with other editors. I know {cough, cough} Paintshop Pro get's no respect but in this instance it worked out really well, it worked as if I were editing in Photoshop itself ... I'm happy! As often as I need to white balance it is just as often I don't have a grey point to reference.

Noah Hayes's picture

Is there a reason you prefer Paintshop Pro to Photoshop? Does it have tools or plugins that aren't available in Photoshop? I use Pixelmator sometimes because it's a lot faster than Photoshop for quick stuff

Pete W's picture

"Is there a reason you prefer Paintshop Pro to Photoshop?"

When I bought version X4 I had no reason other than it was the cheaper option. At the same time I was also looking at GIMP but as powerful as GIMP is I wasn't happy or I could not get used to its user-interface so I ponied up the 90 bucks and went with Paintshop X4 Ultimate.

As for it's plugins, many designed for Photoshop will also work in Paintshop which I found quite a handy feature to have.

Patel Neil's picture

Thanx for the Tip, will help with next project!!!

Philipp Schmid's picture

Convert your image from RGB to Lab, add a curves adjustment layer. The curves in the a and b channel are your white balance sliders. I can't think of a more simple solution.

filmkennedy's picture

As cool as this is, just think it's easiest and the most accurate to use an expodisc takes literally a second to use on set and nails it every time

Noah Hayes's picture

Maybe I'm missing something but why would anyone go through all this work rather than just adjusting in Lightroom and import into Photoshop? Seems overly complicated for something so simple.

Mark Davidson's picture

While I respect the expertise displayed in this tip, it demonstrates the folly of trying to make an extreme WB adjustment in PS. Note the color casts in the highlights and shadows. Yes they can be removed, but it is a lot of fiddly work. Had the WB been set properly in the Raw converter, final color adjustments would be simple.
Of course if you shoot JPG your life is not easy in these cases.

Andrew Von Haden's picture

I remember learning abou this trick back on Photoshop TV in 2006

Charles Diaz's picture

Easy work flow!

Latin Snow's picture

I like to get my white balance with this device (https://nixsensor.com/?ref=3). I can scan save and use the values when I am doing post-processing.