So – What is “White Balance” ?

by Blake Robinson

August 22nd, 2013    0 Comments     Add Comment
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Sara one

What is White Balance? The name should really be color balance. Have you ever taken a picture inside, in flourescent lights, where the faces look green? This is a typical white balance problem. The camera is set for a certain type of light and the actual light – the color temperature of the light –  is different.

In the image above, from my recent shoot with Sara, I asked Sara to hold up a white balance card. The grey in the card is middle gray or 18% gray. After the shoot, in editing the image in Lightroom, I sampled the gray color to determine if my color was true or not. In this case, I was very close. I took the minor adjustment that Lightroom suggested and applied it automatically to all the images of our shoot.

In the studio the color temperature of my lights is 5500 Kelvin and I set my camera white balance setting to 5500K as well, so usually the color is right on. If I’m shooting outside, or inside at a location where there’s a mix of flourescent, tungsten and natural light, I’m going to use a white balance card for sure, so I can achieve true colors in the final images.

Capture0002too warm-Edit

In the image above, I’ve taken the same picture and purposely changed to white balance to an extreme level that is too “warm.” The skin tones can get too yellow and orange. However, there may be times when you start with a white balance the is “correct,” but you decide you want to warm up the picture slightly – that’s a artistic call. In this picture, I’ve gone too far.

Sara three

Here’s the other extreme – Sara is too “cool” is this image. With point and shoot and DSLR cameras, setting the white balance for auto usually works well in most cases. Or, on a cloudy day outside, for example, using the “cloudy” setting generally gives a good result. But most of the time, even with the right camera setting, I’ll adjust the white balance some while editing the picture.

This can all be a little confusing at first. If you have any questions. let me know!

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”





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