Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Photography: Understandin White Blance (WB)

I m going to cover white balance in this post or as i like to call it WB, just because its shorter and its often a term that is use amongst us lazy photographer that type alot.

There are several reason why we adjust the WB but to keep it simple its because:

You want to get the right most accurate colors in your image - plane and simple

Why would you want to get the colors right?

I think most of us have noticed that sometimes if you take a shot under different light condition the shot ends up looking differently, the main color of the image just doesn't look right. This is because your WB is set to a condition which your are not shooting in so to speak.

Lets get down to business. Lets learn how to adjust our WB

Different digital cameras have a different way or button or you have to go into the menu to change the WB, but no matter what camera you are using the settings or words used to describe the WB mean the same thing. So what are the preset avaliable? And what do they mean?

Auto - this is where the camera makes a best guess on a shot by shot basis. You’ll find it works in many situations but it’s worth venturing out of it for trickier lighting.

Incandescent - this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten (incandescent) lighting (such as bulb lighting). It generally cools down the colors in photos.

- this compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.

Daylight/Sunny - not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly ‘normal’ white balance settings.

- this setting generally warms things up a touch more than ‘daylight’ mode.Flash - the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you’ll find it warms up your shots a touch.

- the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.That covers it pretty nicely.

Now i m going to be honest with you i don't mess around with WB a lot. I often have it set to auto. This is because my camera is pretty good at guessing out the WB and as i shoot in RAW i can always adjust the WB afterwards, so its not that big of an issue for me, but then again i do adjust it and take a picture and if it doesn't look good no matter what i try i will adjust the WB and see if it looks better or more similar to what i m seeing. Note that WB needs to be change back and this is a setting that will be "saved" on your camera until you change it back to what ever you want.

But if i was going to do a whole shoot of indoors shot and i shoot in auto and i notice that its not really working out i would set the WB to what looks the best to save me time in the post processing work. Auto WB works almost perfectly in outdoors conditions if you ask me.

Of course you can work with WB to make a picture warmer or cooler if you want, which can add alot of feeling to the image overall.

There is also a manual WB settings on most DSLR's, and this can come in handy when the preset are really working. This is something i haven't tried yet but i do find myself fine tuning the WB in CameraRAW often.

To set a manual WB, take a look at your manual or do a quick google search on the camera model and manual WB you should find it rather fast. But in the end just use what looks good to u.

Here are some example of the affect of WB, some shots taken indoors with the only thing coming in as a light was the sun.

Camera: Nikon D40x
Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 at 24mm
Shutter Speed: Not important (but constant)
Aperture: Not important (but constant)
Mode: Manual
Image Quality: JPEG, fine size small

Note that as i shot in JPEG, adjusting the WB isn't going to work.




Direct Sunlight:




Judging from these photos with no post processing what so ever not even a crop, i have to say the WB preset that came the closest to getting it right was actually the Auto WB. But then again its not perfect, if i was going to shoot this seriously i would have done it in RAW and adjusted the WB.

I think that pretty much covers the basics, hope it helped some of you to understand WB

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