- 2013 Photographer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Photography
- Step-by-Step Lighting for Studio PortraitPhotography
- How to Create Stunning Digital Photography
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Group Portrait Photography Handbook
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
- 500 Poses for Photographing Group Portraits
- Selling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Every light has a color temperature. Some are very cool (blue) while some are warm (red). Color temperature can be measured in Kelvin. Light sources typically range from about 1500K to 10000K. The lower the number, the warmer the light is, and the higher the number, the cooler. The most common light sources you'll encounter are incandescent or soft white fluorescent bulbs which fall around 3000K. The sun is about 5200K. So switching between these two light sources (and others), you will have to know how to adjust your camera to compensate for this change in color temperature.
Setting Your White Balance
The white balance setting is how you adjust for different light sources. Knowing how to control your white balance is very important in photography. In fact, a photo with the wrong white balance can easily make a photo look very amateurish, even if all other aspects are fine. Setting correct white balance ensures that the colors in your photo are true to life. With an incorrect WB, you may notice that your photo has certain color cast, such as blue or yellow.
To start, you can set your white balance to auto. Modern cameras are typically very good at guessing the color temperature of a scene. Each camera differs though, so you may find one camera shoots everything a little cooler than another camera, even when shooting the same scene. Auto mode will not work for every situation though. In some scenes, the white balance will need to be fine-tuned, and in others there will be mixed lighting which leaves you with the choice of either picking one light source to correctly balance for or finding a middle-ground between the various light sources.
The easiest way to adjust your white balance is to use the presets on your camera. Most cameras come with presets such as incandescent, florescent, daylight, cloudy, and shady. These are the most common, though your camera may have more. Some cameras will allow you to fine-tune your WB off of these presets or the auto setting, allowing you to make the white balance slighting warmer or cooler than the what the camera picks as the correct balance. You may also be able to select the color temperature by its Kelvin rating.
White Cards and Gray Cards
These cards are used to obtain a neutral white balance. White cards are specifically designed for setting the white balance, while gray cards are used more for getting correct exposure, but can also be used for WB. They give your camera a frame of reference off of which to figure out the correct white balance. You can use a white or gray card to set your white balance either in-camera or during post-processing. To set the white balance in-camera, simply take a photo of your white or gray card filling the frame, then change your white balance to Preset Manual (PRE) and choose that photo. This will use the white balance settings in that photo for all photos you take while your WB is still set on PRE.
To use a white or gray card in post-processing, simply take one photo of your scene with your card filling up most of the frame. Then, in post, you can select the custom white balance picker tool (eyedropper) and click on the white or gray card. This should give you the correct white balance which you can then apply to all of your other photos taken in that same scene. Remember that if you decide to correct the WB in post-processing that you will want to shoot in RAW as it will give you much more latitude for adjustments over JPG.
Image credit: joseasreyes / 123RF Stock Photo
Written by Spencer Seastrom