White Balance Tools Plus….

On March 25, 2010, in photography, by admin

Never underestimate the value of custom white balancing, whether you are shooting stills or motion. Custom white balance is all about your making decision about color, rather than allowing your camera to make the decision for you. Custom White balance is also all about consistency: As long as you are shooting under the same light, regardless of what is in the picture, your white balance will be consistent. There are two ways to create a custom white balance: the reflective method or incident method. The Incident method of white balancing, which was recently covered in our companion blog, www.hdslrs-n-motion, generally involves placing a neutral filter over the lens and shooting a frame from the position of your subject, to measure the light and color of light hitting the subject. The reflective method, which is covered here, involves shooting a neutral gray or white card, which captures and measures the color of the light reflected off the card, from the subject position to the camera sensor. That frame becomes the benchmark reference, under those lighting conditions, that renders white “pure” whether you use it to set the in-camera white balance or use it to set white balance during post processing. You should refer to your camera manual for step-by-step instructions on how to set the custom white balance using the reference frame.
Let’s get one thing clear, white balance is not absolute, as in if you have ever used or compared the results from more than one white balancing aid, you may see some subtle differentials in the rendering of “neutral.” Sometimes one may produce a slightly warmer or cooler tone than another. Custom white balance is a tool, and for those who intend to get creative, whether it’s a simple black and white conversion or an edgy fashion image, accurate color is a great place to start from. There are people who are perfectly happy with their camera presets, and depending on the conditions they are shooting under, the presets may indeed be acceptable.
In addition to solid color white balancing tools, there are multi-color balancing aids available which allow for color checking, balancing and correction during post processing as well as exposure evaluation during a shoot. One of my new favorite color balancing tools is the X-Rite Color Passport Checker. This pocket-sized package has everything you need to manage white balance and a color-corrected workflow and comes with camera calibration software which allows users of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom products to develop DNG camera profiles.
There are a number of choices available for managing white/color balance from the very basic and inexpensive 18 Percent Gray Card, to more sophisticated, durable and expensive products like those from WhiBal, X-Rite and others. Many of the manufactures have tutorials on their sites to show you how the products are best utilized.
A final word on choosing products to use for setting color balance: Although people often assume that white paper of fabric are acceptable alternatives to use for setting white balance, you should exercise caution when using these materials as some papers and fabrics contain brighteners and/or bluing agents which may adversely impact their neutrality.
Feel free to click on the embedded page below to check out some “Nice Bytes” picks for white balance and color corrected workflow.
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Disclosure: No consideration has been received in connection with this blog entry, nor has any manufacturer and/or retailer offered any consideration.

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