White Balancing Your Camera (Part 2)

This is part two of an article on white balancing (see part 1 here)

Manually Setting White Balance

Sometimes, you’ll want to manually set the white balance on your camera. For example, you might want to compensate for when multiple lighting sources are mixed together.  You may also want to make a change to make a shot warmer or cooler for artistic purposes.

The typical color temperature for different kinds of light. These temperatures can be used to adjust white balance in the camera.

Temperature Source
1,700 K Match flame
1,850 K Candle flame
2,700-3,300 K Incandescent lightbulb
3,400 K Studio lamps
4,100 K Moonlight
5,000 K Horizon daylight
5,500–6,000 K Typical daylight
6,500 K Daylight, overcast

Using a Reference Image to Set White Balance

If memorizing a bunch of temperatures is too difficult and you aren’t happy with a built-in preset, it’s time to make your own preset. This is typically useful when shooting in a location that has mixed lighting (such as sunlight through a window combined with bulbs from inside).

The exact process will vary from camera to camera, but typically the process involves doing the following.

  1. Shoot a reference photo with something white in it.  The white should fill most of the frame.  The subject can be a sheet of paper or a more accurate calibration target.
  2. Choose the custom white balance option in your camera’s menu.
  3. Select the reference image so the camera can calibrate itself.
  4. Visually inspect the preset’s result and ensure that skin tones and key details in the shot look natural.

Using a reference image lets you accurately set the white balance. In this case, a piece of white paper is used to help the camera properly measure color.

This article is excerpted from a new book – Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots

About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on January 26, 2012, in Gear. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.

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