Balancing Act

by Steve Simon

Generally, when my raw files are well exposed, the White Balance control is the first step I take toward squeezing the best image out of my raw file, and to get the overall color close to where I want it.

When you change the white balance of a raw file, Aperture reconfigures it’s interpretation of color from the red, green and blue data without manipulating it so color correcting with White Balance is a “free” edit, and won’t lead to any posterizing or tonal breaks.

And, you can extend it’s 2500-10,000degrees Kelvin range by having the cursor hover over the color temperature data, which changes the icon, at which time you can click and drag to the right all the way up to 50,000K!

1. 10k Kelvin.jpg
10,000 Degrees Kelvin

50k Kelvin.jpg
50,000 Degrees Kelvin

You can do the same thing by clicking and dragging left to a minmum 2000K. (You can extend the range of most adjustment tools in Aperture the same way). When would you want to extend this range? Rarely, but in sunset or sunrise images for example, you may want higher than 10,000K color temperatures.

When I’m using my monitor at home, I like to widen my Adjustments HUD, so the slider is longer, allowing for subtler changes.

Wide hud.jpg
Widen HUD by clicking and dragging the bottom right corner

Getting your white balacne right with the eye dropper tool is easy. Just click on a neutral gray area within the image as a starting point.

Here’s a little nugget that not everybody plays with using the Eye Dropper Control in White Balance. When you click and hold the eyedropper within your image, as you move the dropper around the image you will see the white balance change in real time as the dropper moves.

4. ClickdragNotNeutral.jpg
Wherever you move the eye dropper while holding down the mouse, you see the white balance Aperture chooses for that spot. When the eye dropper covers an area that isn't neutral, the resulting color will be off.

3. Clickdragneutral.jpg
In neutral areas however, the color temperature will be perfect or very close.

This is handy when determining the exact neutral area you want to use as your starting point for your color temperature change. Small movements while holding down the mouse or trackpad will let you hone in on the exact part of the image that yields the most pleasing white balance; and since the loupe automatically activates you can be very precise in your eye dropper placement. Very nice.


random bob, a.r.c.
2007-11-15 12:51:41
that click & hold eyed dropper tip is a real gem. I'll have to play with that one!
2007-11-16 17:33:07
These editing tips are wonderful. Please keep them coming!
2007-11-17 12:44:27
Great info! I did not know about extending the ranges like that...thanks!
2007-11-20 09:50:51
Great tips!