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The Story Behind That Picture:

"Adjusting the White Balance in a Photography"

By: Thorsten Overgaard

 

White balance is something all know about and few use. That's because it's widely misunderstood as something the camea does for you, or something the computer may fix

Other of my articles on this:
White balancing for more beauty [PART I]
The right colors (X-Rite Color Passport) [Part II]
White balancing for more beauty [PART III]
Color Photography and the Colors of the Leica

White balance could be the first adjustment you do in Lightroom, as this will give you a good idea if the image is pleasant or not.

The color temperature should fundamentally be neutral and correct, and from here you may adjust the color temperature of the image as an “artistic choice” to for example being warmer.

 


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Artistic change of White Balance in Lightroom

Here is an image I adjusted White Balance from 4800 Kelvin (as shot Auto White Balance in the camera) to 6800 Kelvin by moving the Temp ruler in Lightroom:

Before   After
     

 

External White Balance

If you did a manual white balance with a white piece of paper or a greycard (WhiBal®) before you photographed, the white balance is most likely as it should be, and all colors looks good.

You can also use an external Color Meter that will measure the White Balance so you can type in the correct Kelvin value. This image below gives a good idea how much of an improvement the step up will give your image:

 
 
Usig WhiBal   Using external color meter

 

The image to the left was made with the White Balance set in the camera by pointing it to a WhiBal card and was 5500 Kelvin. The image to the right is measured with the Sekonic C-700 that read the light 6098 Kelvin.


Sekonic C-700 Color Meter ($1,400) and WhiBal white balancing card ($30, often referred to as a "whibal greycard").

 

I have to read the Sekonic C-700 Color Meter and do the adjustment in Lightroom (or in the camera before I take the picture). In this case I adjusted it in Lightroom.

I did this video some time ago on how to set the White Balance in camera before the shoot with a WhiBal card:


Setting the White Balance manually on the Leica M Type 240

 


Setting the white balance in the camera before photographing is clearly to prefer and is rather simple. You simply put the WhiBal card (or a piece of white paper) in front of the main subject and take a "reding" with the camera. Then the White Blaance is adjusted to the actual light.

Correct White Balance

If you didn't set the White Balance in the camera or are not satisfied with the Auto White balance the camera did, you need to establish the correct color temperature and adjust it to "white light" (daylight).

In Lightroom you can click on the symbol for White Balance (WB), which is the picker to the left in the color panel:

You can also use the W-key on the keyboard that corresponds to the white balance mode.

You then point at something neutral white, grey or black: A wall, the edge of a persons glasses, a white shirt, a black shirt, the white of the eyes, a grey button on a jacket.


Pick a neutral target as the one marked with yellow in this image.

 

What you look for to put the pointer at is something that is neutral and which is hit by the key light (the most important light source in the image). In the above, the white table with the light from outside would be a good spot to put the pointer at to get a neutral white light.

You will see a preview of how the image’s colors changes when you click on a point in the pictures.

If the color doesn’t look right, you UNDO it and then try another spot and see how that works:

Command (-key) + Z (-key) is undo/regret previous action.
Every time you hit  Command + Z  Lightroom steps one step previous in the actions you did.  Usually you can undo the last 20-30 actions you did.

 

Using preset White Balance in Lightroom

You may also use the presets As Shot, Tungsten and so on:

 

Using the White Balance slider in Lightroom

You can use the Temp (the scale showing the Kelvin number) to get closer to achieving the correct white balance, but it's difficult to decide when the balance is correct and the colors looks neutral.

One problem with White Balance is “remembering the color”. It’s almost impossible because colors change after light, size and which colors are next to them.

If you buy paint for a wall based on a small sample, you will discover that your wall looks very different because the size is bigger. And the color changes again when the light changes!
 
Further, the color temperature (White Balance) is a combination of Temp and Tint. Play around with the two and you will see how you get into trouble very easily!

 

 

The easiest way

The fastest and easiest way to get the colors right in a photograph is to set the White Balance manually with a piece of white paper or the neutral grey WhiBal card before you photograph. Nothing to fix in the comptter and no guessing as to what the exact skin tone was.

 

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I hope this was helpful. You can learn more on this and other ways to get the right workflow in my Lightroom Survival Kit 6:

 


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More on the Lightroom Survival Kit 6
More on White Balance

 

Thorsten Overgaard, June 6, 2015



 

 

   
   

 
 

 

   
   
   
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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica M10   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica CL
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica TL2
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 1
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Sofort instant camera
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder   Leica CM 35mm film camera
     
     
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica SL and TL lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 180mm R lenses
    Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leica Cine Lenses:   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
     
     
History and overview:   Leica S:
Leica History   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica Definitions   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica S digital medium format
Leica Camera Compendium    
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
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Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Which Computer for Photographers?   Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone   Capture One Survival Kit
Quality of Light   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Lightmeters   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
White Balance & WhiBal   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
X-Rite   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
The Origin of Photography    
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
Leica OSX folder icons   Leica M10 Masterclass (video course)
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Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
 
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Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston   Richard Avedon
     
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LeicaRumors.com (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
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Above: Central Park, New York, 2014.


 


 

Also visit:

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Thorsten Overgaard Books
Leica Definitions
Leica History
"Photographer For Sale"
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
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Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic
Leica Digilux 2

Leica M10
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Leica Q
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"On The Road With von Overgaard"
Light metering
White Balance for More Beauty
Color Meters

Screen Calibration
Which computer to get
Sync'ing photo archive to iPhone
Lightroom Survival Kit 7
Capture One Survival Kit 10

The Story Behind That Picture

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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 

     
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