December 22, 2014, 02:18:24 AM

Author Topic: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?  (Read 20859 times)

Ew

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 156
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #45 on: January 07, 2013, 07:51:52 AM »
Excellent notes everyone.

Lets not forget - we also need to calibrate our monitors and at times compensate for the final presentation. Be it a gallery, or a cinema (especially if were goibg to a film recorder and need to pass through lin-log/xyz conversions applying various luts depending on neg/pos stock.) Much like getting the right icc matching the printer and paper.
5D3 | 600D | EOSm | Samyang 8mm 3.8T | Samyang 14 2.8 | 17-40 | 28 1.8 | Sig 35 1.4 | 40 | 50 1.4 | 100 2.0 | 135 L | 70-200 4L IS + x1.4mk2 | Nippon Kogaku 50 1.4 (1965) | Nikkor 43-86 (mid 1970s) | M: 22

canon rumors FORUM

Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #45 on: January 07, 2013, 07:51:52 AM »

paul13walnut5

  • Guest
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #46 on: January 07, 2013, 02:22:20 PM »
It's a good point.

I generally have to scream in stage crews faces to get them to change the projector colour temp to match the room lighting.

Another good point is that I've just bought a calumet / prospec zipbalance.
Which is a bit more robust than my qpcard.  Bigger too.  And cheaper.

Sporgon

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2079
  • 5% of gear used 95% of the time
    • View Profile
    • www.buildingpanoramics.com
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #47 on: January 17, 2013, 05:11:05 PM »
I carry around a Kodak color card I got way back in the film days..... top half neutral grey, bottom half color bars.

For things like sunlight or clouds I use the camera presets, they are usually close enough that an image can be easily adjusted to taste in lightroom. When I get confused with indoor lighting, I make a best guess at the settings, whip out the color card and take a shot of it, and then procede. When I get back I can use the color card shot to tell me what I need to adjust.

And shoot in raw.... you can change the color balance afterwards with raw files.... I have merrily snapped away dozens of photos before realizing that I had the balance set to tungsten BEFORE I moved outdoors and forgot to change it.... With RAW files you can correct that mistake.

Using the color card I was able to adjust white balance and hue until Fluffy turned white again....

Judging by the look on that cat's face you've either had it pose waaaaay too long, or asked it to pose for this sort of thing waaaaay too often ! ;D
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 05:13:15 PM by Sporgon »

paul13walnut5

  • Guest
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #48 on: January 17, 2013, 07:39:20 PM »
Not sure what your point is? It is what it is, color is a subjectively derived term.

It's subjective for humans, imperical for cameras.

Quote
"White balance" does not always easily get us the pictures that we remember, nor the pictures that we want. We are in it for the photography, are we not?

Absolutely in it for the photography, and for me, the videography.  I understand fully that the technically correct white balance might not be the desired result, but lets walk before we run here, the OP asked about understanding white balance.   

Once you get to a certain level of competence with anything you can start to play about, break the rules with confidence and get an intended effect, but the rules, the science are where you start.

Quote
I prefer to get my composition, focus etc right. Rather worry about things that can be fixed later.... later.

-h

I prefer to get it all right in camera. I'm coming from a video perspective I suppose, where I have 25 frames every second for up to 12 mins to fix.  Easier to get it as right as possible in camera.

And I've found this approach helps my photography.  In video I will spend time filtering different CT sources, running manual WB, recording a test strip with colour and gamma charts, I wouldn't expect most folk to do this with their stills, and I certainly don't.

The OP asked about white balance, answers like 'it's subjective' don't really tell them anything.  Get the fundamentals in place and then start playing.  I use Apple Color, I have Magic Bullet and Looks plug ins for FCP, Premiere and After-Effects, so I fully acknowledge the benefits of grading,and the impact this can have on the footage for the viewer, and so it follows for stills, but my starting point is always getting it neutral in camera, then I can do anything I like with it.

The grading might be subjective, but the science of colour temperature is anything but.  Understanding that different light sources look different to an objective piece of apparatus like a camera is the first step to achieving the results you want, be these graded within in inch of their lives or otherwise.

bycostello

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 910
    • View Profile
    • London Weddings
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #49 on: January 17, 2013, 07:51:29 PM »
use the white balance dropper in lightroom...  even the white of an eye if there isn't anything else..

Don Haines

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 3596
  • also on superhero vacation
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #50 on: January 17, 2013, 08:25:42 PM »
I suggest that you get a  modern grey card like www.qpcard.com with the best  metamerism characteristics.
Are you interested in color management then  there are many good  tips at the  QP Card home page.
I took the liberty to correct Fluffy, WB=RGB values corrected against the white patch instead, hope you do not mind

HOLY C**P!!!!! I posted the before picture!!!! Thanks!..... and this really proves the value of a color card.
The best camera is the one in your hands

RickSpringfield

  • Canon AE-1
  • ***
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #51 on: January 17, 2013, 09:39:27 PM »
Dear Original Poster,

If this is your first experience with White Balance ... stop looking at this post and immediately run into the other room where your significant other is sitting and give them a big hug.  Then swiftly seize your camera and using whatever settings are full auto (green box) take a bunch of pictures.  Burst, Timed, Horizontal, Vertical, anything.  Then download them onto your computer and look at them together and talk about the great expressions, and the fun you had taking the pictures, and then go get an ice cream.  When your done, come back home and snuggle and then right before bed, when you are sitting up reading a book... reach over, grab your camera, and snap another few pictures under the soft white light of the lamp on the nightstand.  Maybe even splurge with a couple of hilarious self portraits together.  Then go to bed and dream about how you'll look at these great pictures tomorrow. 
This is immensely important.  If you don't do this, you'll be missing out on your last chance to take a picture and ... deep breath everyone ... not be critical of it.  The fact is, white balance is an enormous rat hole.  Once you start down this path you won't ever go back to that happy place where a sorta exposed, lamp lit, color suppresed, low contrast image will do.  Oh no my friend, from now on its not about taking pictures ... its about taking pictures with grey cards and modifiers and obsessing about Kelvins.  In fact, you wont even be able to walk into someones house without thinking 'You really should have used color balanced 5500k bulbs in those lamps with white shades'.  And for awhile folks will think ... maybe he's got something there.  But then after hanging out with you and your custom white balanced buddy's for a night, the rest of your friends will start to think ... 'Man, if I'm not wearing a shirt with a red ring on it or holding a grey card this guy doesn't even notice me'.  And they couldn't be farther from the truth because you and I both know you for sure noticed them.  In fact, you noticed they were lit with a 2700k soft white bulb from home depot and its not doing much for their skin tones.

:)  Cheers!

canon rumors FORUM

Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #51 on: January 17, 2013, 09:39:27 PM »

rpt

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2288
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #52 on: January 17, 2013, 09:50:53 PM »
Dear Original Poster,

If this is your first experience with White Balance ... stop looking at this post and immediately run into the other room where your significant other is sitting and give them a big hug.  Then swiftly seize your camera and using whatever settings are full auto (green box) take a bunch of pictures.  Burst, Timed, Horizontal, Vertical, anything.  Then download them onto your computer and look at them together and talk about the great expressions, and the fun you had taking the pictures, and then go get an ice cream.  When your done, come back home and snuggle and then right before bed, when you are sitting up reading a book... reach over, grab your camera, and snap another few pictures under the soft white light of the lamp on the nightstand.  Maybe even splurge with a couple of hilarious self portraits together.  Then go to bed and dream about how you'll look at these great pictures tomorrow. 
This is immensely important.  If you don't do this, you'll be missing out on your last chance to take a picture and ... deep breath everyone ... not be critical of it.  The fact is, white balance is an enormous rat hole.  Once you start down this path you won't ever go back to that happy place where a sorta exposed, lamp lit, color suppresed, low contrast image will do.  Oh no my friend, from now on its not about taking pictures ... its about taking pictures with grey cards and modifiers and obsessing about Kelvins.  In fact, you wont even be able to walk into someones house without thinking 'You really should have used color balanced 5500k bulbs in those lamps with white shades'.  And for awhile folks will think ... maybe he's got something there.  But then after hanging out with you and your custom white balanced buddy's for a night, the rest of your friends will start to think ... 'Man, if I'm not wearing a shirt with a red ring on it or holding a grey card this guy doesn't even notice me'.  And they couldn't be farther from the truth because you and I both know you for sure noticed them.  In fact, you noticed they were lit with a 2700k soft white bulb from home depot and its not doing much for their skin tones.

:)  Cheers!
LOL! You made my morning. Now I can drag myself to the office and face the day :)

Brilliant! Do you have a blog?

paul13walnut5

  • Guest
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #53 on: January 17, 2013, 10:00:37 PM »
Thats me that is.

I am the precious cameraman who complains that the light is all wrong.

And yes, in mixed environments I am secretly thinking what lee numbers I'd use to colour correct.

Even socially.  In the bar.  Waiting at the supermarket till.  Driving through a tunnel.

It's tragically tragically sad.

I don't take my photography quite so seriously as my video, but hey, the OP asked about WB.

Maybe I should have just towed the 'it's subjective' line.

« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 05:14:56 AM by paul13walnut5 »

VirtualRain

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 59
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #54 on: January 17, 2013, 10:51:51 PM »
Dear Original Poster,

If this is your first experience with White Balance ... stop looking at this post and immediately run into the other room where your significant other is sitting and give them a big hug.  Then swiftly seize your camera and using whatever settings are full auto (green box) take a bunch of pictures.  Burst, Timed, Horizontal, Vertical, anything.  Then download them onto your computer and look at them together and talk about the great expressions, and the fun you had taking the pictures, and then go get an ice cream.  When your done, come back home and snuggle and then right before bed, when you are sitting up reading a book... reach over, grab your camera, and snap another few pictures under the soft white light of the lamp on the nightstand.  Maybe even splurge with a couple of hilarious self portraits together.  Then go to bed and dream about how you'll look at these great pictures tomorrow. 
This is immensely important.  If you don't do this, you'll be missing out on your last chance to take a picture and ... deep breath everyone ... not be critical of it.  The fact is, white balance is an enormous rat hole.  Once you start down this path you won't ever go back to that happy place where a sorta exposed, lamp lit, color suppresed, low contrast image will do.  Oh no my friend, from now on its not about taking pictures ... its about taking pictures with grey cards and modifiers and obsessing about Kelvins.  In fact, you wont even be able to walk into someones house without thinking 'You really should have used color balanced 5500k bulbs in those lamps with white shades'.  And for awhile folks will think ... maybe he's got something there.  But then after hanging out with you and your custom white balanced buddy's for a night, the rest of your friends will start to think ... 'Man, if I'm not wearing a shirt with a red ring on it or holding a grey card this guy doesn't even notice me'.  And they couldn't be farther from the truth because you and I both know you for sure noticed them.  In fact, you noticed they were lit with a 2700k soft white bulb from home depot and its not doing much for their skin tones.

:)  Cheers!

LOL... Book worthy!   ;D
Canon 5D Mark III, 35L, 85L, 24-105L, 70-300L

Quasimodo

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 963
  • Easily intrigued :)
    • View Profile
    • 500px.com
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #55 on: January 18, 2013, 12:51:24 AM »
Dear Original Poster,

If this is your first experience with White Balance ... stop looking at this post and immediately run into the other room where your significant other is sitting and give them a big hug.  Then swiftly seize your camera and using whatever settings are full auto (green box) take a bunch of pictures.  Burst, Timed, Horizontal, Vertical, anything.  Then download them onto your computer and look at them together and talk about the great expressions, and the fun you had taking the pictures, and then go get an ice cream.  When your done, come back home and snuggle and then right before bed, when you are sitting up reading a book... reach over, grab your camera, and snap another few pictures under the soft white light of the lamp on the nightstand.  Maybe even splurge with a couple of hilarious self portraits together.  Then go to bed and dream about how you'll look at these great pictures tomorrow. 
This is immensely important.  If you don't do this, you'll be missing out on your last chance to take a picture and ... deep breath everyone ... not be critical of it.  The fact is, white balance is an enormous rat hole.  Once you start down this path you won't ever go back to that happy place where a sorta exposed, lamp lit, color suppresed, low contrast image will do.  Oh no my friend, from now on its not about taking pictures ... its about taking pictures with grey cards and modifiers and obsessing about Kelvins.  In fact, you wont even be able to walk into someones house without thinking 'You really should have used color balanced 5500k bulbs in those lamps with white shades'.  And for awhile folks will think ... maybe he's got something there.  But then after hanging out with you and your custom white balanced buddy's for a night, the rest of your friends will start to think ... 'Man, if I'm not wearing a shirt with a red ring on it or holding a grey card this guy doesn't even notice me'.  And they couldn't be farther from the truth because you and I both know you for sure noticed them.  In fact, you noticed they were lit with a 2700k soft white bulb from home depot and its not doing much for their skin tones.

:)  Cheers!

LOL! Well written and funny :)

However, and I make no claim to be good at this. There are people here who have serious game in this (I have used a recycled napkin in a pinch). I got the great advice in here to buy the ColorChecker Passport by X rite, and I have to say that it is brilliant. I normally shoot with AWB (always only in RAW) for private use. However, right now I am shooting quite a few people (portraits) for a commercial campaign, and I have found that using the Colorchecker which works so well and integrated with Lightroom is saving the day and night of not having to salvage the pictures in post. All ad agencies have all adobe products, and so I shoot my pictures with the colorchecker, and I leave it to the artdirectors and designers to get it right :)
1Dx, 5x600 EX RT, ST-E3Canon:16-35L II,  24-105L , 70-200L IS II, 135L, 100L, 2x III TC, EF 25II, 40 F2.8 STM, Sigma 35 F1.4 Art, Sigma 50 F1.4 Art, Sigma 85 F1.4, Sigma 150-500.
Canon A-1, 199A, FD: 24/2.8, 35/2.0, 100/2.8, Vivitar 400/5.6 Mamiya RZ67 pro ii, 50,110,180
www.500px.com/gerhard1972

bdunbar79

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2606
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #56 on: January 18, 2013, 02:15:30 PM »
I love the way you guys make the OP's decisions for him.  Paul actually got it right.  The OP specifically asked about WB and how to use it properly, and now you are making a decision for him that it doesn't matter to him and it's not important because it's subjective.  Oh how I wish I knew as much as most of you. 

Or, you could just answer the question.  Perhaps you don't know and use the "it's subjective" line to cover your own lack of knowledge. 

Either way, keep it up!  This is good entertainment!
2 x 1DX
Big Ten, GLIAC, NCAC

paul13walnut5

  • Guest
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #57 on: January 18, 2013, 03:05:59 PM »

Color is _defined_ by its subjective effect on humans. All of the efforts spent by engineers and color scientists (in this context) are to mimic those subjective effects using technology. By necessity, those efforts are based on models describing "typical" viewer response for color patches covering a certain percentage of our field of view.

Quote
I think it is critical to understand that it is hard to define a "technically correct" white balance. The closest would perhaps be to eliminate the bias introduced by the illuminant in the scene, and replace it by the illuminant used while viewing the finished image. What would that do to candle-lit scenes?

Bullocks!
Kelvin Scale was derived by a physicist from my home city, Glasgow.
The colour temperature comes from the colour of carbon when burned at a given temperature.
It's really that simple.

When you dial in a kelvin, thats what it's based on.

Your example of the candlelight is a good one.  Do you use awb and try and fix it later?  Do you dial in the closest preset?  Now which preset is closest again?  What if you wanted to lift it a little with some bounced soft flash? Say if the family were a black family for example? How do you make sure the flash output doesnt clash with the candlelight?

Heres a couple for you... A model lit by flash in an urban environment at night with some sodium streetlamps in the background?

A singer in a band under hmi stage lights?  LED pars?  Fresnel spot? With red green and blue gels on some of them?


Quote
I think it tells them a lot. Rather than buying all kinds of gadgets, obstructing their work-flow etc, it tells them that "as long as it looks good on display/print to you, everything is ok". It also tells you that "no matter how good AWB is in the future, it will likely never be perceived as perfect, so you might as well be prepared to do some manual effort if you have high demands".


You need one gadget.  A white sheet of paper.  If you know your kelvins, or even the appropriate preset you don't even need that.

The first two quotes from your reply indicate that you have no consideration of what the OP asked, and confirm that you really don't know what you are talking about. 

It might be complex, it might need a bit of thought, it might require an alteration to how you work, but then that was the gist of the OP question.  They are willing to try and learn, they've correctly sussed that its probably quite important in some situations and that an awareness of it can't hurt.

Hey, man, if awb is working for you, great, but niether the OP or anybody else asked!

PS: when you 'fix' your WB in post, as with all sliders, less is more.


canon rumors FORUM

Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #57 on: January 18, 2013, 03:05:59 PM »

mirekti

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #58 on: January 18, 2013, 03:13:55 PM »

Is white balance related to metering?
For example I know that my 5dIII measures the exposure at the center of the frame.
Let's say I decide to measure outside of center. I than measure with center point, lock metering, recompose and refocus.
What will the AWB be? The one from the first measure or it will be recalculated after I recomposed?
M240 | 35mm FLE | 75mm Cron | 135mm APO

paul13walnut5

  • Guest
Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #59 on: January 18, 2013, 03:43:21 PM »
In camera metering is generally about the luminance (brightness) of light, more usually that reflected from the subject, white balance is more about the colour of the source light.

Both systems cans be easily confused, metering by light or dark subjects, by lights behind the subject etc, white balance can be confused by the colour of the subject.

Despite the 'it's subjective' crew this is why I think its impoetant to understand how the camera is working, and where it can get things wrong, as this helps you get things right.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: What is white balance and what's the correct way to use it?
« Reply #59 on: January 18, 2013, 03:43:21 PM »