How do you make whites really white?

Nov 4, 2010
How do yo make whites really white? I am not talking about getting the correct white balance!

I am not happy with the way whites in most digital images look. Film photos have beautiful whites most of the time but digital images often have blueish, yellowish overcasts...sometimes grey.

What is your approach to achieve the perfect silky whites. I sometimes use Hue/Saturation layer, sometimes selective color adjustment layers...

What do you do to get clean whites?


Staff member
Sep 27, 2004
Punggol, Singapore
when you mention shooting on film, are you refer to negative?

if yes, so you are actually see the print out from the negative which already exposure adjusted and color corrected by the lab people, you will never know how off is your colors and exposure until you shoot in transparency.

when we shoot in available light, most of the time the white balance is nor here nor there, maybe two types of color temperature exist, plus some color cast from near by subject, it will show up in the shadow areas.
for an example, if you shoot a bride wear in white standing under a tree, the color balance is in shade, but some green will show up in the shadow areas, like the neck areas, the folds of the gown etc, it will be very tricky to correct it, most experienced photographers will either

- avoid shooting at this situation,
- convert to black and white,
- use reflectors,
- use flash.

if you already have some problematic images need to work on, use adjustment layer with layer mask.


Senior Member
Jan 8, 2004
I think TS is looking for the mode of the picture rather than the white... If just white, your RGB values will indicate whether is off or in.

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