Monday, February 2, 2009

Camera Tip: White Balance

If there is only one special setting you should get to know on your camera, it's the White Balance. Particularly if your painting style leaves a lot of white paper or canvas showing through, White Balance will save you tons of grief in the photo edit stage. I actually avoided painting any pictures with white backgrounds for YEARS...knowing how difficult they were to photograph.

Your digital camera has a built-in AWB (Auto White Balance), but sometimes you'll need to override it. Usually this means simply checking the manual for how to bring up the setting, and then taking a sample photo of a blank sheet of white paper.

The photo from my studio below illustrates the kinds of variation you might get from photographing an all white still life. You can see by learning one small camera tip you can save yourself a lot of big editing headaches.

White balance can also come in handy for monochromatic and full color images.

Here's a couple good internet sources for the basics of White Balance; what it is, what it means...

  • "Normally our eyes compensate for lighting conditions with different color temperatures. A digital camera needs to find a reference point which represents white. It will then calculate all the other colors based on this white point. For instance, if a halogen light illuminates a white wall, the wall will have a yellow cast, while in fact it should be white. So if the camera knows the wall is supposed to be white, it will then compensate all the other colors in the scene accordingly.

    Most digital cameras feature automatic white balance whereby the camera looks at the overall color of the image and calculates the best-fit white balance. However these systems are often fooled especially if the scene is dominated by one color, say green, or if there is no natural white present..."

  • "White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.
    Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, however digital cameras often have great difficulty with auto white balance (AWB).
    An incorrect WB can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts, which are unrealistic...


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