Match color balance between photos in Lightroom to prep wedding/family albums

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  • Updated 4 years ago
When I shoot weddings and portrait sessions, I rarely have time to use a white balance card for all my shots. And, I frequently shoot on two different cameras in variable light conditions (different angles, moving somewhat in and out of shade, etc), so I find a lot of variation that prevents me from simply copying white balance settings from one photo to another. I can typically color correct the shots individually without much issue, as perfect white balance isn't necessary (or even desirable in many images, as I often shoot with a warm color balance in my portraits). Often times, there is a tux, white shirt, etc in the image that I can use with the white balance tool, and manually fine tune from there if needed. However, when I put similar images side by side (which happens very often in an album spread), small variations in color balance are very obvious. In other words, the images look fine alone, but small variations make them look funny side by side. For example, I shot an action spread of an engaged couple having a snowball fight and each of the three images had obviously different color balance due to the coloration of snow at the edge of the frame.

So, my goal really isn't perfect white balance, but rather it is good color match between a few photos.

It would be great if I could pick an area on one photo to color match to another. For example, it would be easy to highlight some portion of a bride's dress or groom's tux in two different photos in a spread. Or perhaps matching skin tones for the same person. I realize that very bright or dark tones increase measurement error significantly, but if I could just get the images close (not perfect), it would save me a lot of time manually matching images.
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Greg Benz

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Posted 5 years ago

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I shoot in raw and find that setting the TEMP and TINT in LR to the same numeric values gives me equal color balance across photos shot at the same time/location. I tune my favorite shot. I then make all related ones have the same values. You can select them all, and change them at once if you have sync set properly.

This assumes the light source is the same in all images - for example it always works outside. But if I'm in a big concert hall, stage shots do NOT have the same balance values as audience shots because the light sources are so different.

In your "snowball fight" example I would expect it to work. Moving through a church with sunlight in the doorways, flourescents in the hallways, and incandescent spots at the alter I would not expect it to work.

I also have not tried this with JPEGS (but with Lightroom, who needs/wants to shoot jpegs? ;) )
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justin k

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If you're shooting with different cameras, then simply copying the white balance settings will not work. Even comparing the Canon 5dii to the 6d, the white balance settings are markedly different for the same scene, using a grey card. While the overall look is very similar after using the eyedropper on the gray card, the actual numbers for temperature and tint are far apart.
Therefore in absence of a gray card to synchronize WB response, it would be a big time saver to be able to match color between photos with a click or two.