Thursday, 30 June 2011

White Balance

In an ideal world you would always shoot you images as RAW files. My next blog will explain why but in the meantime if you are still shooting jpeg it is VITAL that you get your white balance right every time you press the button.

You camera will have an AUTO white balance function which I would advise you never use except in the direst of emergencies, where you simply don't have time to change settings for fear of losing the shot. Auto settings only work perfectly in a 'perfect' situation where you have an absolutely 'average' subject. Even lighting, even tones, even colours etc. These conditions only exist in a laboratory, not in the real world.

The camera will also have a number of preset white balance options to accomodate bright sunshine, cloudy days, artificial lighting, flash etc . These are all approximates and can't be anything else. Light can be at any point on a long sliding scale of colour temperature and these presets are once again a compromise.

The only way to be sure of pictures with neutral greys, clean highlights and colour cast free shadows is to use your CUSTOM WB function. It's really easy. Follow the instructions specific to your camera and take a reading from a piece of white card in the same light as that falling on your subject every single time you take a picture. Faffy ? yes, worth it ? definitely.

A more costly but far more convenient and even more accurate method is to use a specifically calibrated device called an EXPODISC, cost around a hundred quid but is invaluable to the serious operator, have a look at it  
http://www.expoimaging.com/product-overview.php?cat_id=1&keywords=ExpoDisc

Happy snapping !

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