Tuesday, September 29, 2009

White Balance

Why do people get so het up on white balance - it is absolutely meaningless in your camera if you are shooting RAW and why wouldn't you be?

I leave my camera on auto white balance just so the thumbnails are of a reasonable colour, then when I take the raw file into Camera Raw, use the gray balance dropper (upper left) to neutralize the image. If you happen to have some tones that are supposed to be neutral then you are laughing - this weekend I was shooting white lab coats. More often you won't have a neutral colour. In that case I will do one of two things, play with the colour temperature slider (top right) or I will use the gray balance dropper on the most neutral colour I can find, then make small adjustments to the colour temperature sliders (there are two, a main one and a cyan/magenta one).

Once in Photoshop, one can do an Auto Colour in the Image menu or do a curves adjustment layer, using the gray balance dropper once again on the most neutral colour. Here I can use the layer opacity slider to tone back the colour effect and often this is just exactly what is needed to get the colour adjustment where I want it.

There are many other ways to colour balance - this is simply the method that works for me.


G Dan Mitchell said...

I'm with you on the whole white balance thing - it seems like a strange obsession in all but a few cases. I don't actually care much whether or not my prints are perfectly accurate reproductions of the color balance of the original scene - what I care about is whether they look good or not.

I shoot RAW. I adjust in post, sometimes differently on different portions of the image.

Blotz said...

Obsession with WB is probably a holdover from just a few years ago, when shooting jpeg was a necessity for a lot of amateurs because of memory issues. We forget how much a 1 gig microdrive cost in 2003. I used to shoot jpeg with my D1x simply to save money on memory. I switched to raw all the time only recently, the $30 8 gig cards help with that.