Some times, one white balance just doesn’t cut it. Have you ever processed a RAW image only to discover that setting the proper white balance for the landscape resulted in a pale or even yellowish sky? One possible culprit is that you’re working on an image with two distinct white balances: one for the sky and one for the landscape. In the above image, selecting a correct white balance for the sandstone walls resulted in water that was an unnatural, dingy yellow color. Luckily, there are a couple of tools that make it quick and easy to correct this issue.
If you’re using Lightroom 4, the adjustment brush can be utilized to easily apply local white balance corrections. Simply select the adjustment brush, set all the options to zero and then move the white balance slider to the appropriate setting. If you don’t get it right the first time, no big deal. Once you’ve used the brush to “paint” on the effect you can always go back and edit the results. In the slot canyon image above, I used this technique to cool off the water and return it to a more natural looking state. You can use this same technique to selectively reduce noise, increase (or decrease) sharpening, saturation, contrast, clarity and more. It’s really a simple but very powerful tool.
Another option that allows an easy fix is Nik Software’s Viveza 2 plug-in for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. This works in a similar manner but instead of using a brush to “paint” in the effect, you use a Control Point to easily select only the color range with which you need to work. I prefer to use this method to fix problem skies as the Control Points make it very easy to also darken the sky and add a touch of saturation – both of which I often do to give skies a little more zing. Yes, zing. I used this technique on the image below and it resulted in an image with a much more natural yet impactful sky.
In my experience, neither technique works best 100% of the time. I find that I’ll try one and if it doesn’t work as desired, I’ll try the other. It’s certainly beneficial to have both tools in your toolbox. Give it a shot and let me know what works best for you!
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This post sponsored by Google.