Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Importance of White Balance

The Holiday Season is here! And most everyone will be taking pictures and videos of parties and events. Those are part of the Holiday tradition. But if there are somethings that I feel most people should know about taking pictures, they are these two things:
  • how to turn on the Red Eye Reduction mode and
  • how to set the proper white balance
Note that there are a lot of things to learn about photography. Two years in and I admit that I still have a lot to learn: theory about color, composition, lighting, etc. But I feel that those two are the first things that should be learned by anyone who aspires to take photos. Why? Because those two are things that can be set in the camera - you don't have to read a lot of books nor go to a photography class. All you have to do is read the manual.

Take the picture below. I took this shot with tungsten lighting. This will make pictures yellowish to reddish-yellow. But, since I set the white balance to "custom" in my camera, I was able to get the proper tint.

The incorrect white balance is very obvious on the wall behind me on the left though it is also very obvious on my right cheek and the hand holding the lens (left cheek on the picture).

So, the moral of this blog is, learn to change the white balance on your camera. And if your camera is capable, the best setting is the one where you are the one who set the white balance itself (the custom white balance). You can use a white bond paper as your reference but, if you really are serious of setting the correct white balance then I suggest you use a standard reference, like the ColorChecker Passport. And setting the white balance in-camera is most important when you are shooting jpegs - with RAW, you can easily change the white balance using photoshop or whatever picture editor you have. But, there is nothing like getting it right when you take the shot.

The picture above was made by a Canon 5D Mark II with a EF 24-105 f/4L lens.

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