In this practical guide, we've shared how to white balance in Photoshop, so you can make your images look as accurate as possible, while minimizing the effects of unflattering light.
What is White Balance?
In the photography world, "temperature" is used to describe your light's tonal quality. Some light sources have a warm temperature (like a candle), while other sources have a cool temperature (like a fluorescent bulb), and this can color your scene in a significant way. To deal with unique lighting conditions, you can adjust a camera's white balance so that the colors in your scene look more accurate.
Our eyes adjust fairly quickly to extreme light sources, so we don't usually notice how they tint our surroundings. Your camera's white balance settings allow you to compensate for various lighting conditions, whether you're shooting on a cloudy day or in a room with harsh fluorescent light. However, if your camera doesn't have these settings, you can tweak the white balance in Photoshop as well.
How to White Balance in Photoshop
Launch Photoshop and load an image by selecting "File" > "Open". Then, go to the Layers panel and click on the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the panel. Press Shift+Backspace to bring up the Fill dialog box, and choose "50% Gray" in the Use section. This will create a gray fill layer that can be used as a guidepost for accurate white balance.
With your fill layer selected, click on the Blending Mode section of the Layers panel (currently, it should say "Normal") and change it to "Difference". Then, click on the New Adjustment Layer icon and choose "Threshold". A histogram will appear on the screen, and the fill layer should now be black. Drag the slider below the histogram until the fill layer is completely white, and then slowly drag it back until you start to see faint black outlines (around 20-25% Threshold Level).
Next, press the I key to select the Eyedropper tool, and hold the Z key to zoom into a dark section of the image. Shift+click on the dark section to set a marker with your Eyedropper, and then press Ctrl/Command+0 to zoom back out. Now, click on the eye-shaped icons next to your fill layer and threshold layer, so that they're hidden from view.
With your Background layer selected, click on the Add Adjustment Layer icon again, and choose "Curves" this time. Click on the second Eyedropper in the Curves panel, and then zoom into the dark section where you set the previous marker. Click directly on the marker, and Photoshop will use those two Eyedropper values to fix your white balance.