Having a strategy regarding how you use your white balance settings in your camera can be a good way to insure that you get the photo you want later. Many, but not all, cameras give you options, and being aware of when to take advantage of those options can save you some time in your post editing process. I think it is worth the time to look through the manual of your camera and think about how you might use the different settings. Today, I am going to talk about the two options I use most frequently, auto and custom.
Here is my defense of auto white balance, and when I say defense I say that because almost every photographer is made to feel like using an auto version of anything on their camera makes them less of a “real” photographer. So, here it goes, my auto white balance setting works pretty well. That’s the short version. The longer version is that pretty much any photo I am taking for my artistic work I am going to at least consider changing the white balance in my post editing process. Auto tends to give me a good solid starting point. This photo was taken with the white balance set to auto:
Custom white balance is a setting I use all the time when I am taking photos inside ice arenas. I spend a lot of time shooting hockey games. When I started using custom white balance in those situations, I used a grey card. I would prop it up on the side of the glass and take a photo of it. My camera then allows me to choose that photo and use it to set the white balance setting of other photos from it. That worked pretty well. Then it was suggested to me that I try and shoot a photo of the ice and use that photo as a base for my white balance settings. I like the way that works, here is an example:
This isn’t such a great photograph, but you can see detail in both the white and blacks of the uniform, and that is because the white balance here is set pretty well. If you have ever shot in a hockey arena, you know the lighting is horrible and that getting a good exposure can be pretty tough. Having your white balance set properly is a step in the right direction.
How about you? do you have a white balance setting you use frequently? maybe you don’t consider white balance at all? Feel free to leave a comment below, and if you have written a blog post about it, feel free to leave a link.