photography & instagram

editing white balance with apps

02.26.16

After sharing a couple of posts about photo editing for Instagram, I wanted to follow up briefly with a short post on editing white balance with apps. White balance is adjusting a photo so that the whites appear to be true white, it’s not as baffling as it sounds.

editing white balance with apps | humphrey and grace

Different types of light will have a completely different effect on your photos. Have you ever noticed how a really sunny day makes shadows or objects photographed in the shadows appear blue? How photos taken indoors under artificial lights are yellow? If you’re not sure what I mean, squint at the photos on the left below, yellow right? This can be fixed to an extent with apps though never quite as well as with full photo editing software on the computer, but more than enough for most purposes.

The photo I am using is again one I took on my iPhone 6 – white balance on a DSLR camera is a different thing and can be adjusted on the camera with a selection from a menu, or simply set to auto which does a pretty good job of compensating for light conditions before you even take the photo – today I want to give a few tips for editing phone photos with apps. This photo is not true white in any part as I took it indoors under artificial light and the walls are painted in palest grey. Maybe it’s a difficult photo to have chosen to edit but it does show quite nicely how photos can appear a different colour and at the same time white balance does not only play a role in photos of white. The overall colour of this photo needs adjusting to compensate for the yellow. Colour cast by light conditions effects all images. The area of white I am focussing on for reference in this edit is that of the mantelpiece and plates, here I am aiming for a true white. Correcting the white is simply a case of compensating for the colour the light has produced.

Lets start with one off the camera version… When you are editing a photo of your own, in order to decide how best to fix the white I suggest you squint at the photo or look at it from a distance, what is the overall colour you see? What is the colour tint on the white areas? Being indoors under artificial light will make phone photos yellow. Yellow can be corrected to an extent by adjusting the temperature of the photo to a cooler one though not entirely. Think of the temperature edit as a yellow – blue adjustment (this is relevant to the colour wheel mentioned below). Often though adjusting the temperature needs to be partnered with adjusting another colour.

The easiest way to think about colour correction is to look at a colour wheel (this one is fairly straight forward to follow, there are millions online to look at), you want to choose the opposite colour to the one you want to remove. Sometimes you may need to do a double edit fixing more than one colour, though it really depends just how fussy you want to be. You can train your eye to see the overall colour of a photo, the tint. The easiest way I find is squinting as mentioned above, or by holding the photo further from your eyes so you aren’t concentrating on the details, just the overall colour.

I’ve listed the apps I used on my photo and editing steps below.

Lightroom app edit / white balance – custom / temperature -6 / exposure +25 / contrast -9 / whites +8 / blacks -25

VSco edit / exposure +2 / temperature -1 / contrast +1 / highlights magenta +1 / tint -2

Instagram edit / brightness +25 / warmth -30 / saturation -6 / colour – highlights – violet +4 /  sharpen +9

Remember that adjusting the brightness and contrast won’t fix whites. I haven’t used PicTapGo for this post as honestly, I think you’re better off using the simple editing tools on Instagram. In fact I think the Instagram tools have done a really good job here which is a bit of a result hey? You might need to experiment with the colour adjustment to pick the right one, you can adjust highlights and shadows separately. I left the shadows be (the dark areas in this photo don’t offend me) and used the following colour just a tiny bit on the highlights – i.e. the wall and mantelpiece.

instagram colour edit

How far you take your edits is, as always, up to you. If you prefer to keep a slightly warm tone then great, if cool blues are your thing then use them. And again I will say it is not the app you use that matters as they all have good and bad points, more keeping a consistent editing style that is important. I have been playing a little with PS express, the Photoshop app, and have to say I think it is at least on par with the Lightroom app (unsurprising when they have the same parent company) in terms of flexibility and advanced editing beyond the other apps I have used. They also don’t squash the files or mute the contrast as some other apps do. But again, this is just my personal preference and you can – of course – use whichever app you choose.

As a point of reference and in line with my other photo editing posts here and here, I have edited the image at the top of this post in the full version of Lightroom on my computer.

I hope this makes a vague amount of sense? I’d love to know either way so I can come back to it later if needs be!

Julia x

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