February 15, 2015

Creating White Balance Presets in Lightroom

(image  # 1)
Here’s a really useful white balance tip for Lightroom users that have to make color corrections on a JPEG file. This tip will only take about 5 minutes, but it’ll save you a ton of time when you’re working on JPEG’s. I use this all the time and I think you’ll find it handy yourself when the color of your image is not quite right and needs a little help. 

Unlike RAW images where you get 8 WB choices, not counting the setting where you selected the WB in camera called As Shot. When you're working with JPEG’s in Lightroom you basically get As Shot, Auto or Custom. Fixing color on JPEG’s in Lightroom is sort of hit or miss.  I’m sure you know what I mean, adjusting the Temperature and Tint sliders to get the correct color balance, then when you open the next image, you’ve got to do it all over again. This can make working on a JPEG (or multiple JPEG’s) frustrating and very time consuming. What we really need is a good starting point with some other white balance options right?  

(image  # 2)
Here’s a little work-around for creating JPEG presets that you might find useful. It won’t give you all the power of working on a RAW image, but it’s a lot better than what comes pre-packaged with Lightroom. This tutorial will show you how to get 8 preset options to use as a starting point on your JPEG’s, plus you’ll get to see previews on the Navigator Panel when you hover over them, just like when you’re working on a RAW file! This takes only a few minutes to set up, but once you create them you can use these presets on any JPEG you need to work on in the future.

If you look at the first image  on the top of this post (image 1) you’ll see that the White Balance setting (WB) for this image is set to As Shot, but I think the image looks a little too orange for me. If you look at the choices in the menu, (image 2)  Lightroom only lets you choose As Shot, Auto or Custom. Sometimes Auto will get you in the ballpark but I’ll show you how to give yourself some more choices. On your computer, open any RAW or DNG file in Lightroom.

(image  # 3)
For this example I’m using a DNG file, but either will work just fine.  This RAW (or DNG) file is what we’ll use to create our own set of Presets to help us work on our JPEG’s. Once you’ve got your file open, tap the D key to put it in the Develop Module. Check out your WB options here.  (image 3) We’ll name our first preset Auto so in the Basic panel change your White Balance to Auto. 

On the left side of the Lightroom screen, you'll notice that I closed the Navigator tab and clicked on the Presets tab to see our list of presets. In case you didn’t know, if you right click next to the name Presets and click on Solo Mode you'll only have one panel open at a time.   

(image  # 4)
In the list of presets, right click on the one called User Presets and you’ll get a pop-out menu with two options: New Folder or Import, choose New Folder. (image 4)  

(image  # 5)
When you click on New Folder a dialog box will pop up asking for you to name this new folder, I called mine JPEG WB Settings (an easy name will make them easy to find right?) then click on Create. (image 5) You should see your new folder in the Presets panel.

Next you want to click the little plus sign + on the top of the Preset panel. When you click on that a dialog panel will open up called New Develop Preset.  Some of you are probably already familiar with creating presets, but if you’re not, just follow along. Here is where we tell our presets what we want them to do. 

When that panel opens up, in the top box it will ask you what you want to call this preset and since we had already changed our White Balance to Auto, we’ll name it Auto in the Preset Name box. Right underneath that it’ll ask for a folder to put it in and in the drop down menu, we’ll choose the one we just created.  (image 6)

(image  # 6)
On the bottom left side of that panel, click the button called Check None to clear all the check boxes. You’ll notice that this clears all of the check boxes except one, one called Process Version, make sure you leave that one checked. That step is very important. The only check box we need is the White Balance in the Settings section, so make sure this one is checked and then click on Create.   

You should notice now that you now have a preset named Auto in the new folder you created. We’re going repeat this process for all of our presets. The next one is Daylight, then Cloudy, then Shade and so on. I just went through the list and created one for every setting. When you’ve created all of those, change your RAW or DNG file back to your original White Balance settings and close it. 

(image  # 7)
To show you how this works I opened up my original  JPEG file in Lightroom, the one with the color issues. Now all I do is click on my new Auto preset that we just created and that gives me a great starting point. Check it out! (image 7)

Now we’ve got all sorts of options for working on our JPEG’s. Open the Navigator preview panel, and then take your mouse or pointer and hover over any of your new presets in the Preset panel and watch the preview change to that setting. If you work on JPEG’s often you’ll find this is especially helpful. It might not give you all the power of working on a RAW file, but it’ll give you a nice starting point and save you tons of time.  Nice huh? 

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

© D. Gould Photography