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White Balance and Tone Control Settings

by Robin Nichols

Auto WB Setting
Auto WB Setting
© Robin Nichols
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Basic White Balance

Keep White Balance (WB) on 'Auto' most times, but change them when shooting in a light source that does not look right on the LCD (i.e. the picture looks way too yellow, red or blue).

Typically the most common mistake is when the 'Indoors' WB is set and we shoot outside!

Everything goes a nice bright blue color!



Fluourescent WB Setting
Fluourescent WB Setting
© Robin Nichols
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Custom WB Options

Test, test, test!
The real beauty of digital is that we can test the shot before we decide that we can move on.
In the 'old days' we used to have to either buy a Color Temperature Light meter (very expensive!!) or make lots of tests using Polaroid film.

It took a lot of time but was also incredibly expensive to get right. Most DSLR and consumer cameras have at least five different White Balance settings that should cover most lighting conditions.

If you find that the color still looks a bit 'off', use the camera's Custom White Balance setting. This makes a one-off reading for that specific lighting condition.

It's a very sophisticated feature that's available in most cameras....


Incandescent WB Setting
Incandescent WB Setting
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Try Different WB Settings

Experiment with different settings to get it looking better.
Options include: Tungsten (incandescent) for indoors, Fluourescent 1, 2 and 3, Shade, Bright Sun, Electronic Flash and, in more expensive cameras, a Custom setting.


Tone Controls
Tone Controls
© Robin Nichols
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Tone Control

You can set your camera to shoot in a range of special tone modes: Contrast, Sharpness, black-and-white, Sepia, and there's even a Solarise mode in some models. Most are a marketing gimmick. While they produce fun results, I'd suggest not using most for the simple reason that it's easier to change the tones later (on a copy) using your picture-editing software.

If you really have to (and remember that all three tone settings can be changed easily using a picture-editing software program like Photoshop Elements), the only one really worth adjusting is probably Contrast.

Set this to 'low contrast' when shooting in the bright sun (ie. at midday), or to 'high contrast' if the weather is heavily overcast and the lighting flat.



Article by Robin Nichols. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.


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