Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photo Tip Thursday

{Edited to include a teensy bit more Kelvin detail}

Okay, today I want to talk briefly about White Balance.  {The funny thing is, I had a whole long post typed up, and then it got WAY too wordy and confusing, and so not brief.  So here I am, REALLY trying to keep this short.}

Different lighting situations produce different temperatures and can result in color casts in your photos.  Have you ever noticed that if you take a picture inside, under artificial lighting, that your photo has an amber-ish quality to it?  A quick white balance adjustment, and these photos will improve tremendously.

I'm going to be honest. When I first started becoming passionate about photography, I didn't notice lighting and color all that much. I just didn't pay attention, I guess. Now, even when I don't have my camera in hand, I take notice of lighting and color casts.

 These days, digital cameras have many WB options to choose from:

White Fluorescent

I'll admit.  Sometimes I'll just set it to Auto.  If the girls are doing something cute, and I'm in a hurry, it works in a pinch.  It tries.  But it's not the best.  You're letting your camera guess, and that doesn't always give you great results.

Recently I've started using Kelvin, and I love it.  I feel like I have a lot more control this way.  Although, if I'm in constantly changing light, I find it to be a little time consuming.  If you have this option, give it a try, and let me know what you think of it.  {A little more info on Kelvin:  in the Kelvin mode you actually set the temperature you'd like to use.  So, at first, it's really kind of trial and error.  I think, in the photo below, I had my Kelvin set to around 3800 to cool down some of the amber color casts created by the artificial lighting.  For some, though, the photo might be a little too cool.  I prefer my images a little on the cooler side.  Can you use Kelvin outside?  Great question, Sarah Kate!  Absolutely!  You would then adjust the temperature according to the lighting outside.  For example, if I was outside on a cloudy day, and wanting to use Kelvin, I would probably set it somewhere around 5700 or 5800.  Not sure, exactly, as I still use trial and error a great deal.  But, you see, you are warming up the temperature to account for the cool casts due to the clouds.  Make sense?}

In Custom Mode you use a grey card to set your own custom white balance.  For some reason, I have not had great results with it.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I obviously haven't mastered it.

Daylight, Shade, Cloudy.  These modes adjust the warmth according to the color casts you'll experience when you're outside in different lighting situations.  If it's overcast, for example, you can set the WB to Cloudy, and it will "warm up" your images a bit.

Tungsten & White Fluorescent.  You may try one of these when indoors and using artificial lighting.  I use the Tungsten one regularly, and it helps to reduce some of that amber color cast I tend to experience when shooting indoors.

So, there ya have it.  A little run-down on White Balance. And a few photos to help you see it a little better:


{Top left was taken in Auto, Top right was taken in Tungsten, and the bottom was taken in Kelvin}.
The differences are subtle, but I think you can see that the top two photos are warmer.  And for fun, I took the photo below in the Cloudy Mode.  Whew!  Look how orange that one is!  That's just bad.

Now, the challenge:  If you don't regularly adjust WB, try it!  Use Tungsten inside to see if it doesn't eliminate some of the amber.  Get out your grey card and set a Custom WB.  And if you do regularly adjust, try a new mode that you haven't yet used.  Then, come back here next week and we can link up a before and after.  Take a photo without doing a WB adjustment {if you don't normally}, and then one with an adjustment.  Or show me a photo taken using an adjustment you don't normally use.

Happy Snappin'!

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Kelli @ RTSM said...

I bought one of the those white balance card things and then never could get it to work for me! I can tell a difference with Kelvin for sure. I need to see if my camera has that setting! Thanks for the great tips Liz!

Anonymous said...

Yep, your auto is pretty good at matching the tungsten! But there's a huge difference with the Kelvin! I love how that one looks. My Canon doesn't have the Kelvin option, so it must come with the camera a step up or more from mine. I do have the custom option though, but I have no clue what a grey card is. Do you ever use the Kelvin outside, or would that make the picture too white?

Kelli said...

Thank you for taking the time for this! I have never heard of Kelvin before...thanks for the explanation.

Val said...

Thanks for the helpful tips.

Connie said...

My camera doesn't have Kelvin. :(

I've been messing with my settings a lot this week because I was attempting to take pictures of my outfits for a blog post.

My next house...will be chosen by how much light they get. I can't take ANY pictures in my dark little apartment.

MiMi said...

It's so interesting to see the little differences...they really are kind of obvious when you show em like that.

Busy Bee Suz said...

You know....just reading white balance makes me nervous....I've never adjusted the lighting. I must look into this and play around with it.
Great tips!!! Thanks.

Rossie said...

I love that you are doing this!!!! Thank you for all the fabulous tips!! I have taken photos for a LONG time, but I am a hit and miss kind of gal. I love creative journalistic photography BUT sometimes I hit it and other times I miss a long shot!! ;)


Foursons said...

I've never heard of Kelvin. I need to see if my Nikon has it.


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