Custom White Balance

So here we go . . . it’s confession time. I photographed in auto white-balance for a looooooong time. I truly felt like my camera was doing a good enough job at setting it for me and that my color was good enough as well. But that was the big problem . . . my images were “good enough.” How could that possibly separate me from my competition? How could it mean that I was a professional? It couldn’t. The only want, I truly believe, to be a professional is to have control over your camera settings and for me, this included white balance. So I went out and bought a Calibration Target, which sat in a corner for several more months because I was afraid of change and didn’t know how to use it. Finally, I asked someone how to custom white-balance and voila! My color was no longer good enough . . . it was just plain good. And sometimes, but still not always because I am the first to admit I’m still learning, it is great. What does this mean for me? Several things:

- better exposures, good looking histograms and clean true-to-life color

- faaaaaar less time “fixing” color in Lightroom, which means more time for other things (like family!)

- nicer prints and products for my clients

- a more professional photography studio – I am doing something that your average amateur does not do

If you don’t know how to set a custom white-balance in your camera, I can’t encourage you enough to do so.  Here is a YouTube videos that I think are helpful for learning to white balance the camera I use,  a Canon 5D Mark II.. Of course, if this isn’t your model, then search for your own camera’s video or ask a friend! Then practice so that it is second nature for you when you go to photograph a session. And then enjoy how nice it is to get it right in-camera while you’re doing something fun with your kiddos!

Canon 5D Mark II – I like the simplicity of this video, but I do take issue with her use something “relatively white” line. Find something that is truly white (printer paper is not . . . it has a touch of cyan added to it for brightness!) or use an 18% grey card! I like Photovision’s Calibration Target. Lastolite also makes the Ezybalance which I’ve heard is great and I’ve use a couple of time.

Have a great day everyone!

And I want to thank Paint the Moon (one of our sweet sponsors) for the fabulous actions used on this image! Getting it right in-camera doesn’t mean you can’t play a little in-computer! 

July 8, 2010 - 11:33 am

Stacey - Hello!

Thank you for sharing this video! I hope this is not a stupid question, but to just back up a minute: when you first take a picture of your grey card, where should it be in relation to your subject? For example, a family group shot.

I assume if you are shooting a still subject, such as a newborn, you would want to put the grey card next to the newborn.

Also, back to the family, if we move to a different location, with different lighting, will I need to do another custom white balance?

Thank you so much for your blog, I REALLY enjoy it. Lots of great info!

Stacey Klemme

July 8, 2010 - 4:04 pm

Emily - Hi Stacey! First things first . . . on this blog there are NO stupid questions! :) That being said, for a family, I would have the person in the middle of the frame hold the graycard while you take the shot to set your WB. And yes, you do need to do another custom WB when you change lighting/locations. (Ex: if you are outdoors and your are photographing in open shade with the sun out full-force you’ll WB. Then if clouds cover the sun it changes the color temperature, so you’ll need to WB again.) Hope this helps! So glad you enjoy the blog. Thanks for reading!

July 14, 2010 - 8:31 pm

Karen Vaisman -

I just tweeted about your cupcakes :)

July 14, 2010 - 8:36 pm

Karen Vaisman - I posted your cupcake notice here: twitter moms!

Your blog is great. Thanks so much for the targeted content!

July 14, 2010 - 8:39 pm

Karen Vaisman - I just tweeted about your cupcakes on my personal twitter account.

love it if you follow me!

I really enjoy this blog and your photo is very beautiful.

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