Monday, May 17, 2010

White Balance, Low Light, and a Gray Card

*A small tutorial on White Balance*
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If you have a camera that you can control the settings on, one of the main things you want to have right is your white balance. There are other things too, but for the sake of this post, we're just talking white balance. Most cameras have several auto options for this, but since I learned how to set a custom white balance, I try to do that as often as I can.
Having a correct white balance (WB) ensures that you won't have unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are white in your photo, as well as getting a "true" rendition of all other colors too. The "color temperature" of a light source, will greatly affect color casts. It's much easier to get a proper white balance in natural light, and when taking pictures indoors with low light situations, you can very often end up with a very orange/yellow color cast.
Here's what I mean:

Before I set a custom white balance, I snapped this picture of my daughter.
To set a custom WB, your camera's manual will tell you exactly what to do. It usually involves taking a picture of something white, finding the custom WB setting on your camera and setting it to the picture of the white object. I recently purchased a gray card. So I snap a quick picture of it in whatever light situation I'm in and then set my WB to that picture.
So after I set my WB, this is how it looked:
Notice how the yellow cast is gone? I really do love this new gray card because my house gets practically NO natural light inside. We have very few windows AND are completely covered up in trees. I am not a fan of using a flash at all, so being able to set a custom WB (along with a few other settings that need to be right), I can take pictures under bad lighting conditions and get results I am happy with.
After my new gray card came in the mail, I played around with my camera a bit. These are all straight out of the camera (no editing) and NO flash. It really helps to have kiddos who don't mind the camera in their face all the time :). I actually had to tell her to quite posing and just let me take pictures.

Often times when people first start trying to learn how to shoot in manual mode, setting the white balance gets lost in the mix and often ignored. So find something white and set a custom white balance. :)


April said...

Thanks for the advice, Leah! That will be very helpful. Always nice to learn something new about the camera!

Squirrel said...

What a little cutie! Oh I know I'm supposed to be learning, but I got distracted - her smile is completely contagious! LOL
Rosey x

HappyMomOf2 said...

Leah, this was so helpful! I just got a new camera (upgraded from my point and shoot), so I love finding hints like this.

Jillian Deiling Cassity said...

ohh how cool thank you so much for the tutorial!! someday... when I get a good camera ill be able to use this! lol! :D

Georgina said...

Ooh thanks for the tips - youve inspired me! Great shots - I dont get much light in the house either