While White Balance presets and Auto White Balance can be quite useful, many choose to manually set the white balance on their cameras. This is a useful approach if you need to compensate for when multiple lighting sources are mixed together in the same scene. It is also a way to warm or cool a shot for stylistic purposes.
If you want to work numerically, you can use these numbers in degrees Kelvin as a guide.
- 1,700K Match flame
- 1,850K Candle flame
- 2,7003,300K Incandescent lightbulb
- 3,400K Studio lamps
- 4,100K Moonlight
- 5,000K Horizon daylight
- 5,5006,000K Typical daylight, electronic flash
- 6,500K Daylight, overcast
If memorizing a bunch of temperatures is too difficult or you aren’t happy with a built-in preset, its time to make your own preset. The exact process will vary from camera to camera, but typically the process involves doing the following.
- Shoot a reference photo with something white in the shot. The white should fill most of the frame.
- The subject can be a sheet of paper or a more accurate calibration target.
- Choose the custom white balance option in your cameras menu.
- Select the reference image so the camera can calibrate itself.
- Take a few more photos under the lighting conditions used to make the preset.
- Visually inspect the presets result and ensure that skin tones and key details in the shot look natural.
Here’s a short video tutorial showing the process.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37315644 w=640&h=360]
You can also see the video here.
Give this technique a shot and combine with your own shooting preferences.