Photography Tutorials and Articles

Custom White Balance

Custom White Balance for Colour Accuracy  

Previously I discussed the Auto White Balance and Presets. Generally speaking, auto white balance works very well in most newer digital cameras. When there is only one light source, or If you are doing some candid shots just for fun, you don’t need to be too concerned about Custom White Balance. However, if you take pictures and colours must be accurate, it is your best option. Also, if you want to simplify your editing process, you should consider switching to Custom White Balance.

What is Custom White balance?

A digital camera needs to have reference of a Neutral Grey colour to refer to and then it can adjust the other colour accordingly. Basically, we need to register a neutral grey colour for our cameras under the light condition that we take photos. When the reference grey colour is registered properly, the cameras processor will adjust the other colours automatically. Here are some examples:

Auto White Balance

Auto White Balance couldn't create the correct colours
Auto White Balance couldn't create the correct colours

There is a heavy yellow colour cast in above image. There were two light sources in the scenee, the sky light and the fluorescent light from the building. The combination of two different light sources confused the camera. Therefore, the auto white balance could not make the correct colour rendition.

For the next shot, I set the custom white balance by using a grey card. Therefore, the camera had a reference to refer to and set other colours. Below is the result.

Custom White Balance

No more colour cast. Thanks to custom white balance.
No more colour cast. Thanks to custom white balance.

The colours are noticeably more accurate in above photo. There is no colour cast in this image. Setting up the custom white balance can take a little time but saves you lots of  post processing work.

Rules Of Thumbs for using Custom White Balance

As a rule of thumb:

–  when there are multiple sources of light (more than one) you need to tell the camera what to do about colour.

  • whenever you take pictures indoors, using Custom White Balance will provide the truest colour for you.
  • When taking photos in Shade/Shadow. The light temperature varies from location to location and cameras usually don’t have the data to adjust for these situations.
  • When you take pictures in a very colourful environment. You need to help the camera see past these colours and understands the neutral colour.

In Digital Camera Bootcamp, I have dedicated a good portion of a session to colour cast and how to avoid the bad colours!

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That is all for now. Stay tuned for my next photography Tips. We love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions, feel free to send  us your questions and we will be more than happy to answer them. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more Free Tutorials and Tips.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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