White Balance with GIMP
Roll over this photo of a baby Vervet Monkey to see the version with incorrect White Balance.
Hi everyone, we’re back from Africa!
Now that we’re back and I’m editing my photos, I’ve noticed that some of them have White Balance problems. The photos I took in early morning light are too cool, or blue. Luckily this is not a hard problem to fix. Since I’m seeing the same kinds of problems with a lot of my photos I can automate my adjustments to make fixing White Balance even easier.
White Balance is a mixture of the colors in your digital photos (blue, yellow, green, magenta, red and cyan). Correct White Balance renders colors the way your eyes see them in real life. Correct White Balance leaves white parts of the photo truly white and gray parts truly gray. Incorrect White Balance will leave aÂ Color Cast.» Roll over the picture of a Baby Vervet Monkey to see the version with a blue/cyan color cast.
You may be able to choose how your camera balances colors if it has White Balance Settings. Different light sources require different balances of color to prevent Color Casts.Â White Balance Settings generally correspond to different light sources. These may include Tungston, Flash, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, and Fluorescent as well as custom settings. You can even choose Automatic. If you can’t choose your White Balance settings that’s ok. Your camera is choosing for you.
Choosing Automatic White Balance lets your camera decide which kind of light is present and the way it should mix colors. I use my camera’s Automatic White Balance setting almost all of the time. Most of the time Automatic does a good job of choosing the correct balance of colors. But sometimes the camera gets it wrong and I end up with blue monkeys. Thankfully there are a bunch of easy ways to fix White Balance problems and remove color cast with GIMP. Keep reading to find out how.
If You Shoot RAW
You can change your White Balance Setting after you take the picture with the click of a button. RAW converters, including GIMP’s UFRAW, let you choose from a list of White Balance optionsÂ similar to your camera’s White Balance Settings. They even have their own Auto preset. Sometimes UFRAW’s Auto WB setting does a better job than my camera’s Auto White Balance.
The above picture shows the cameras White Balance settings. My camera decided to make this photo too blue.Â UFRAW‘s White Balance dropdown menu is circled in yellow. I chose UFRAW’s Auto WB from this dropdown menu to start getting rid of the Color Cast. Roll Over the image to see the difference between my Camera’s White balance (called Camera WB) and UFRAW’s Auto WB.
This is a good start, but it still looks a little cool, or blue, for my taste.
The Temperature Slider lets you fine tune the warmth and coolness (yellowness or blueness) of the photo. Slide to the left to make images cooler. Slide to the right to make them warmer. I’ll keep the Auto WB Setting as a foundation and fine tune with the temperature slider to make the photo warmer.
Roll Over the image to see the difference the Temperature Slider can make. The dropdown White Balance Setting will automatically change from Auto WB to Manual WB when you make adjustments with the sliders. This just lets you know you made your own adjustment on top of the Auto WB settings. No other changes are made.
I didn’t use it for this photo, but the Green Slider will adjust Green and Magenta tones in your photo. Florescent light sources often leave a green Color Cast.
You can also use the Eye Dropper to eliminate Color Cast.
Click a point on the image that should have no color. Something that should be white or gray is perfect. Then click on the Eye Dropper icon and the White Balance will be automatically corrected. This will not work well if the point you choose should not be truly colorless. This won’t work for every photo but it’s so quick it may be worth a try.
If You’re Correcting JPEG’s (or anything other than RAW)
It’s still pretty easy to correct White Balance problems in GIMP. These adjustments can even be automated so you can quickly fix lots of photos that have the same kinds of problems.
First things first. As always, duplicate the Background Layer by right clicking it’s icon (two-finger tap on Mac), and choosing Duplicate Layer. Make any changes to the Background Copy Layer. This lets you see the changes you’re making by switching the Background Copy’s Visibility on and off.» Duplicating the Background Layer also preserves an original in case you want to start over. (Need more help with Layers? Check out GIMP Layers Explained)
The first and easiest way to correct White Balance problems is to use GIMP’s built in, one click, White Balance Correction Script.
Go to Colors > Auto > White Balance. Click. This automatically corrects your photo.
Roll over the image to see this White Balance Correction Script in action. Again, this is a good start but I don’t think this is perfect just yet. It’s still too cool. I’ll need to do some more adjusting.
For Further adjustmentsÂ I like to use the Cyan/Red, Magenta/Green, and Yellow/Blue adjustment sliders under Colors > Color Balance.
You can choose to adjust colors in Shadows, Midtones, or Highlights. I like to start by adjusting the Midtones and move to Shadows and Highlights as necessary. Roll over the image to see the adjustments I made to the Midtones in this picture.
You can see I moved the Cyan/Red Slider closer to the Red side, The Magenta/Green Slider slightly to the Magenta side, and the Yellow/Blue Slider to the Yellow side. All of these adjustments should Warm the photo. Do the opposite to Cool photos that are already too Warm.
For this photo I found only small Warming adjustments were needed in the Shadows and Highlights.
When you’re happy with your photo you can save these Color Balance settings to apply to other photos. This is especially helpful when you’ve taken a lot of pictures under the same lighting conditions and you want to correct all of them quickly.
In the Color Balance Window click the plus sign (+) next to the Presets Dropdown Menu. Create a name for the Preset that will help you remember the kinds of adjustments you made. Click OK. This saves the adjustments you made to the Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. Now you can open another photo with similar Color Cast problems and select your Preset Adjustment from the Presets Dropdown Menu and, Voi La!! The Color Cast is gone!
There are other ways to adjust color and remove color cast in GIMP and I may write about them soon. If you’re new to UFRAW check out it’s homepage to get to know the program better. If you’re new to GIMP my post Learn GIMP Fast will help you learn the GIMP interface and have you editing photos in no time. Need to know more about Layers and what they do? Check out GIMP Layers Explained.
Learn more about your camera’s White Balance at Digital-Photography-School.com.
Next time more Africa Photos!
Color Cast is too much of one or more of the above colors leaving the picture looking pink, blue, yellow, or even green. Color Cast is especially noticeable in areas that should have no color like white or gray. Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
The eye icon next to a layer’s icon controls that layer’s visibility. Click the eye icon to turn off that layer’s visibility (i.e. make it invisible). The eye icon will disappear but it’s functionality is still there. Click where the eye icon used to be to turn the layer’s visibility back on (i.e. make it visible) and make the eye icon reappear.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5