Despite all the things you do to get the right white balance (see my last article on setting a custom white balance), there are some situations where a color cast is pretty much unavoidable. When that happens, ACR comes to your rescue.
There are fast changing situations where setting a custom white balance every time the light changes in the lighting will mean missing important photos. The solution is to shoot RAW files and process them with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw).
At the recent Stivers photography auction I was shooting in two places with 90% of my photos taken in the exhibit room and 10% in a hallway. So I set a custom white balance for the exhibit room and sacrificed the white balance for the hallway.
In the above screen capture of ACR with the Basic panel on the right, you can see the “before” half of the image on the left with a distinct color cast, and the after half of the image on the right. The important thing was to get the young woman’s skin tone right. I moved the Temperature (yellow/blue) and Tint (green/magenta) sliders back and forth to get rid of the color cast. I pulled the Highlights slider to the left to tone down over exposed highlights and I pulled the Exposure slider to the right to bring up the rest of the image. Then I tweaked the Clarity and Vibrance sliders. This took less than 5 minutes and the results are visible on the right half of the image above.
I clicked “Open Object” (bottom right) to send the image to Photoshop to do some final adjustment to the image.
Adobe Camera Raw (also called just “Camera Raw”) comes with recent versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Lightroom. With Elements selling for well under $100 (or you can get both Photoshop and Lightroom together for $10 per month – less), I consider ACR essential for anyone who seriously cares about the quality of their images. And of course you should set your camera to capture RAW + JPEG files so you have all the advantages of a RAW file to work with.
Originally posted April 23, 2015. Updated and re-posted January 29, 2022.
The more adept you become at using ACR, the better your images will be. There are more panels to ACR that I did not cover in this article and a world of things you can do with ACR to improve your images.
There are lots of good reasons for shooting RAW files.
Some Examples of What You Can Do Using ACR: