Monday, August 2, 2010

Great color starts from WB

I don’t think I  have to ask if you have ever shot an image that looks yellowish, bluish or reddish. It happens to all of us and it’s due to incorrect white-balance (WB) settings. You see, your cameras’ “Auto White Balance” fails in some situations (in fact it fails in most situations!). As a result, colors are incorrect. So what you can do to dial with this issue? Well you have 3 options:
1.            Select a WB preset on your camera: e.g. if you are shooting indoors under a tungsten lamp, set your WB for tungsten, if you are shooting outdoors in a cloudy day, set your WB for cloudy. The problem is that not all situations you are photographing are the same; not all tungsten lamps are the same, not all cloudy days are the same.    
2.            Set a Custom WB on your camera: set your camera for custom WB and fill the frame with a middle gray or white object (you can use a dedicated middle gray card, such as Lastolite for that purpose). Take the shot and you’ll have an accurate WB. Just make sure to expose the card to the same lighting conditions as the subject you are photographing. If the lighting conditions change, you have to repeat that procedure.  
3.            One of the greatest benefits when shooting in RAW mode, it’s the ability to adjust white-balance (WB) settings in post-processing, without affecting image quality. If you are shooting JPEG, WB settings are embedded in the image and can’t be altered.  Adjusting WB in Adobe Lightroom couldn’t be easier:
(a)          Import the RAW files in Lightroom.
(b)          Go to “Develop Module”:
(c)           Click on the “Basic” Tab:
Here you have several options; you can select a WB preset:
you can use the Temp and Tint sliders to manually adjust WB:
or you can use the WB selector tool to click on an area of the image that is either middle gray or white:

WB tips
·           Avoid using “Auto White Balance” since the results are not consistent. Instead, get used to set a Custom WB on camera. If you don’t have time to do so, set your camera to “Auto White Balance” and take an image with the gray card included in the frame. In that way you will be able to correct WB very easily in Lightroom by using the "WB selector tool".

·           Perfectly correct WB may not be what you wish; e.g. when shooting portraits, you may want to have a warmer look. That’s easy; create a correct WB and then move the “Temp slider” in Lightroom slightly to the right to achieve that warmer look.

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