Dad, why does Gramma look so blue?
January 10, 2009 5:44 PM   Subscribe

I might be doing some more-serious-than-snapshot photography soon, so I figured I'd better read up on how to balance my whites.

I learned about the WhiBal card from the nifty Tack Sharp podcast available on an intertron near you.
posted by device55 (22 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

Related: A special lens cap that you can use on your camera to set the white balance.
posted by DMan at 5:48 PM on January 10, 2009

Eh, just take the pictures in RAW and you can adjust in post-processing. One less thing to worry about while shooting :)
posted by jemfinch at 6:07 PM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Definitely some useful info there, but this really doesn't seem like a great post. White Balance is pretty much covered in every dslr manual I've read.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:08 PM on January 10, 2009

Lacking a DSLR camera and not really caring enough about my pictures (yet) to shoot all RAW, it's a nice start for "prosumers" or lower, thanks! I didn't realize the light gray was what I should be using for setting the white balance.

DMan: keen idea - previous to seeing the content, I thought it would just be a light gray lid, not something to shoot through.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:21 PM on January 10, 2009

DMan: I've discovered a pretty good way to set up white balance, similar to that lens cap but much cheaper. Put a coffee filter directly in front of the lens and set your camera to custom white balance. The coffee filter diffuses the light and gives the camera a pretty good idea of what white is.

I tried this at my brother's basketball game last night, and it turned out OK.

Jem: True, but if you take a hundred pictures that post processing will take hours longer.
posted by JDHarper at 6:23 PM on January 10, 2009

That would be great if I owned a DSLR
posted by device55 at 6:28 PM on January 10, 2009

Well, if you have a camera that allows you to set the white balance, but doesn't discuss how or why to do it, you've got a problem. All in all, its a basic digital camera function these days. Certainly something worth knowing about, but not really a post-worthy subject.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2009

The problem is often the camera presets are a best guess. The best guess is often wrong.

When that happens, the links above provide instructions allowing you to make corrections.
posted by device55 at 7:34 PM on January 10, 2009

Clouds and socks aren't good enough anymore?
posted by afu at 7:59 PM on January 10, 2009

Even in jpg, you've probably got enough headroom to change the white balance without anyone on facebook or flickr being able to tell the difference.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:09 PM on January 10, 2009

And, few modern digicams will get white balance wrong unless you're in very strong tungsten or fluorescent lighting.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:10 PM on January 10, 2009

I find that high school gymnasiums have weird combinations of fluorescent and incandescent lighting that throw my camera for a loop.
posted by JDHarper at 9:14 PM on January 10, 2009

I'm with jemfinch. I usually approximate in Kelvin settings for the environment & go to town - can always balance in raw (usually have to, to get the effect I like).

The one exception is underwater. In reference to afu: I use the back of my (usually pale & pasty) hand. It'll be a little warm, but not much. And Adobe Bridge (RAW) makes it a snap to do final tweaks afterwards.
posted by volk at 9:33 PM on January 10, 2009

I've been using the white balance lens cap. It's very easy to use with my D90 - I routinely measure the white balance before I take off the lens cap.
posted by mike3k at 9:36 PM on January 10, 2009

OK, you can pay $50 or more for a color-correction cap, or gray cards, or these fancy white color-correction cards... or carry a stinking coffee filter. Or glue white plastic into a $10 lens cap, with the center cut out.

Unless you're seriously worried about looking professional to the clients*, Why On Earth would anyone pay this much for this sheit?

* If you're careful with the lens cap DIY rig, it will look fairly professional.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:46 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

So if I got one of these fancy white-balance cards, or made a cheap alternative, what would I actually *do* with it to get my camera to set it as a custom white balance? The posted articles didn't describe that. Do the videos talk about it? Their chapter titles weren't really helpful in that regard, and I'm reluctant to watch them all just to find out.
posted by harriet vane at 1:47 AM on January 11, 2009

$45.00 for a white balance lens cap? Really? Or perhaps $4.00 or so from eBay?
posted by Duug at 1:54 AM on January 11, 2009

Stupid eBay breaks tinyURL - sheesh.

From eBay.
posted by Duug at 1:55 AM on January 11, 2009

So if I got one of these fancy white-balance cards, or made a cheap alternative, what would I actually *do* with it to get my camera to set it as a custom white balance?

Take a picture of the white object (make sure it's in the light the actual object is in), go into your menu and choose "Set custom white balance" and select the photo you just shot, and then change your white balance settings to "custom."

Take a practice shot, see if it looks how you want it to. Sometimes I like how auto looks better (like if it's a warmer tone).
posted by starman at 5:44 AM on January 11, 2009

how to balance my whites.

First, you start by rearranging the Osmonds in the proper alphabetical order.
posted by jonp72 at 6:29 AM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing don't spend the money on something like that, there's a billion cheaper ways to do it.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:13 AM on January 11, 2009

Thanks starman, that sounds nice and easy. I'll have to give it a try - my white balance is usually out a bit, and I'm tired of fixing it in Lightroom.
posted by harriet vane at 9:56 PM on January 11, 2009

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