How to Balance Mixed Light

Balancing mixed lighting is tested by your understanding of color temperature and light balance. There are two ways to correct mixed lighting: Either you can balance light while shooting, or correct it in post production.

Light Balance

During this bridal prep shot, we chose to leave the lights on and work with the ambient daylight coming through the window. However, in an ideal situation, this scene would play out in two ways:

  1. Leave the lights on – In order to balance the tungsten lamps with the ambient light, we would need to block out the light coming through the window (the key light source for our subjects) and add in flashes balanced with CTO Gels in order to match the color temperature of the lamps.
  2. Turn the lights off – By switching off the tungsten lights, you are strictly using the natural daylight as your main light source, preventing you from having to balance the two light sources.

We chose to build in the imperfections (no offense to lamps) to balance the daylight with the tungsten light. Although the lighting correction wasn’t made during the shoot, we can apply a similar technique to bring these two color temperatures together in post.

Balancing Exposure

Start off by bringing up the Exposure to brighten and balance the light. Next, pull down the Highlights and Whites and bring up the Shadows and Blacks to even-out the image. Any loss in contrast due to these adjustments can be added back using the Tone Curve.


Since we are going for a more natural feel to the image, we can use the Tone Curve to mattify the image by bringing Mid Tones up whilst also muting the pure highlights. This will, in turn, soften and flatten our the image to give us a matte look.

Balancing Color

After adjusting our lighting, the eye is immediately drawn to the bright orange lamps in the background due to the overall increase in brightness and contrast in the image. Using the HSL Panel we can target this outlier and de-saturate the color to match the overall tone. Pay attention to skin tones as you adjust the reds, oranges, and yellows in an image like this, as to not pull color from various parts of it.

Split Toning


With the loss of warmth from the adjustments made to the HSL Panel, we need to neutralize skin tones by Split Toning the image. Gather a reading by selecting a targeted area over the subject’s skin tone to select an accurate tone to add into the Highlights. In this case, selecting a middle ground between yellow and green for Highlights, and blue for Shadows, neutralizes the red in skin tones.


Have questions on how to balance mixed light? Leave them in the comments below! For more tips and tricks to take your images from ordinary to extraordinary in Lightroom check out our Advanced Lightroom Processing Workshop. Gain access to this workshop and so much more by purchasing a Premium Subscription to SLR Lounge!