Auto White Balance Sucks
Auto white balance works by trying to find and set a value for neutral grey, and adjusts all other colors accordingly. The problem with using it for portraits is that it often leaves images too cool, leaving you trying to adjust it manually and hoping for the best. Today I'm going to share my time saving trick for getting great white balance super quickly using auto white balance and tone curves.
Auto White Balance on top, Split Toning adjustment on bottom
Split Toning is Not Just For Gimmicks
True, most people way overdo split toning, especially when learning Lightroom. Like most editing tools, it's best used in moderation with a light touch. So what makes it a great tool for fixing white balance? The ability to warm the shadows and highlights independently. This lets us warm a scene without creating orange skin, one of the hardest things to balance when trying to create that warm look that is so sought after for portraits and weddings.
How to Use It
The main trick in creating this effect is to apply liberal warming to the shadows and a slight cooling to the highlights to protect your skin tones. This simple setting is what I use for all of my white balancing. The only adjustment I make is the balance slider which lets me control where the cool/warm.
I apply auto white balance to my shots upon import and then sync this setting to all photos, which is much faster than manually hunting for the right white balance.