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Other Steps We Can Take On White Balance

White balance is normally set when taking the photograph, but there are ways to either change it after or to use another way to correct the white balance. In this article we are going to explore these options.

Changing it later

Providing you have taken the photographs as RAW images (not Jpg's), you can change the white balance setting after. You have the choice of all the white balance settings except PRE, which has to be measured at the time.

You can change it in:-

  • Nikon ViewNX - go to details on the picture (left of screen fly out) and look towards the bottom.
  • Nikon CaptureNX - look in the edit list, under base adjustments, then RAW adjustments, then white balance.
  • Photoshop RAW - available from a screen parameter.
  • Some others - details vary but will only be available if they handle RAW images for your camera.

Using a Grey Card, EzyBalance, TriBalance or XpoBalance

With these you can take an image with your chosen target included, and the white balance set to a fixed setting for example outside sunny or cloudy, and then continue to take a series of photographs on the same white balance setting.

Lastolite Ezybalance

Lastolie Ezybalance

Lastolite TriBalance

Lastolite TriBalance

See TriBalance, Ezybalance, and XpoBalance  for a fuller explanation of these targets and their uses.

When you have your images on the computer you can use an editing program to adjust the colour to get it exactly right, to illustrate how this is done let's use the XpoBalance as an example, used with the side that has black, white and grey as the included target.

Lastolite XpoBalance

Lastolite XpoBalance

We are also, for illustrative purposes, using Nikon CaptureNX but you can apply this to many other programs.

We are also assuming it was a consistent cloudy day.

This is done by:

  1. Taking the first photograph so it includes our chosen target, in this case the XpoBalance, with colour balance (WB) set to cloudy.

  2. Taking remaining pictures in sequence with colour balance (WB) set to cloudy.

  3. Back on the computer, load the image including the chosen target, loaded into a suitable program (CaptureNX).

  4. Use the black control point and put it on the black area of the target (toolbox row, left of F4 group or from control point menu).

  5. Use the white control point and put it on the white area of the target.

  6. Use the neutral colour control point and put it on the grey area of the target.

  7. Optionally we can make slight adjustments if we want to the luminosity on the black and white control points.

  8. Press 'new step' bottom of edit list (not really necessary buts makes sure all is recorded to date).

  9. Select by clicking on, in edit list, the B/W/N control point line/step.

  10. From drop down on batch controls (cogs at bottom of edit list) select either, save settings, or copy settings.

  11. You can now apply this setting to as many other images as you like using the batch processing commands. For example if you had copied settings, you could now go to the browser (fly out on left) and select the other images to edit, and then right click and select paste settings.

Although it's better to shoot in RAW this will work in other formats, and faster with smaller files.

You could also choose to do other operations at the same time, perhaps increasing colour saturation, warm up, and a little sharpening, as well as resizing..... it's just more steps that are undertaken and included in your selection.

This batch process approach is often used by wedding and fashion photographers. If the light changes its important to stop and do an extra shot with the target, then allowing you to work in batches.

Personally I prefer to use the PRE setting method, but on occasions this can be a useful technique.

Many more options

You can also use the white balance system to get specific effects for example warming images, and this can be applied in several ways including false grey targets, that have a similar effect to using filters.

White balance is a large topic and we have been able here to show you some of the basics of this here, take a look at our other articles and find out more.


By: Keith Park  Section: Photography Section Key:
Page Ref: white_bal_why Topic: Photographic Techniques  Last Updated: 02/2011

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