Thursday, August 12, 2010

Let's Talk White Balance

Over the past weeks, I've been able to hang out with some friends and/or family and let them pick my brain about photography/camera/lenses, etc.  And I had a total epiphany!

I can "talk" photography much better when asked a specific question!!!  (Y'all are all probably saying, "DUH!")  When I begin to try and explain things on a whim (which I feel my brain thinks a little differently anyways), I can't get one single point across.  But when someone gets right to the point, I can get right to the point!  Really quite obvious.

So I was thrilled to answer the question I received from Rebecca"Lindsay, How do you get your indoor shots to keep from being orange?  I have been tweeking my Ap and F and still can't avoid this!"

Though I don't quite understand what she meant by Ap and F, I want to try and and answer this question with some of my own photos.  I could just go linky on you and give you an article to read, but I was up to the challenge of explaining it myself.

First off, white balance is making sure the colors in your photos come out looking like they would if you were there in person.  Our eyeballs know what true white looks like and can adjust in any light setting.

Well, our cameras aren't that smart.  They need a little help figuring out when white is really white!

So here are some photos I took this morning.  First on Auto White Balance, and then in all the white balance setting my camera offers.

These are all completely untouched, straight out of the camera.

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17mm

The camera didn't do a very good job at picking out white in auto white balance. 

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17mm

Definitely MUCH better!  And suffices most of the time when I seem to get an orange cast on indoor photos.

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17mm

Just for kicks I took the same picture in all the other white balance settings.  The sunshine setting was still very orange.

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17mm
Cloudy WB Setting

The cloudy setting turns the picture even ORANGER!  And that is because on cloudy days, there can be a bit of a blue cast in pictures, and this can off set it to make the colors look more accurate. 

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17mm
Shade WB Setting

Same thing with the Shade setting.  Shade can cast even more blue shades in a photo and this setting helps off set some of the cool tones that can appear in photographs!

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17 mm
"K" setting 2800
This is the "K" setting my my camera.  This means that I manually select a number ranging from 2500-10,000 which is assigned a "temperature".  The "K" refers to Kelvin, I'm guessing that's who came up with all this, and is really for more advanced users.  I'm not completely proficient in these numbers, but I have memorized what works best in my home - this one was set on 2800.  Which I think is just a hair too cool.

ISO 500 f/2.8 1/40 17mm
"K" Setting on 2900

Which is pretty close for manually manipulating the camera.  It looks like it has a bit of a green tint to it, which I can also correct in Camera Raw. 

So as my final edit in Camera Raw, I took out the green in the photo (with the tint slider), boosted the brightness, contrast, clarity, and vibrance (all just a hair) and slight edge burn and we're good to go.  From here I save my pic as a JPEG, and if I then decide if I want to run any actions on it to spruce it up even more.  


Just for kicks, I processed the CLOUDY white balance photo too.  WOW, what a change!  This is what shooting in Raw is so helpful with - to help correct some minor things in photos and still preserve the quality.  BUT, for you jpeggers out there, there are still ways.  And also, The Pioneer Woman also has some cooling and warming actions that help with this too!

Even though I can go in and change the white balance in photoshop or camera raw, I still try and adjust it and take a good picture right off the bat.  I don't want to rely too much on software to produce my photos!   But sometimes, just a little tweak can help!

I hope this helps you too!!!


  1. yea for photog tips! You're wrong though, you are GOOD at explaining photography. You helped me grasp the ISO, F stop, and shutter speed much better than any other written explanatios. But I think I learn by that kind of interaction better anyway (camera in hand and teacher at side) Keep the photog posts coming! I'll try to come up with some questions for you. Goodness knows I have plenty!

  2. Yay for white balance! It seriously has changed my life. I also highly suggest using a gray card, it'll give you perfect white balance every time!

  3. Thanks Lindsay!!! This really helps. Im going to practice this afternoon. I'm seriously learning so much about my photos by reading your blog!
    PS- Ap (apperature) and F (f-stop), are just my weird abbreviations. Thanks for helping!

  4. I love shooting RAW, but the files are SO big. I am constantly archiving onto CD and uploading to flickr, just so I have space on my hard drive. Do you have any archiving tips? Anything that's working well for you, while maintaing hard drive space on your computer? (It doesn't help that a lot of my computer is overtaken with graphic design work - those files are big!)

  5. whoops, I meant shutter speed and F-stop. dumb me!

  6. thanks lindsay! i've been taking your advice and working on learning one aspect of my camera at a time. i think you do a great job at explaining!


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