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Photography Question 
Maryann Ianniello

White Balance: How to Use It

I am having a problem trying to understand white balance. I would like to start taking my Nikon Digital to my wedding jobs. I took a digital class and we were told it's best to take a reading for each situation. Examples: Church altar, bride near stain glass window, outside., etc., etc. He suggested buying a fold-up disk showing one stripe of white, gray and black. I was wondering if anyone can tell me if this is what they do when taking professional photos.
Thanks for your help.

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4/17/2005 9:06:46 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Quick and to the point: Natural light is made up of all colors (rainbow or spectrum from prism, colors from red to purple). Artificial light is missing some colors. Tungsten(60w light bulb) has yellow and red, and lacking blue, purple and greens. Fluorescent is heavy on the greens and blue, lacking red end of the spectrum.
All will appear white to your eyes, but not to film or digital. So you balance so that white looks white, and not yellow or green.
Filters can be used, or strobes that are daylight balanced if they're well made. Someone may bring up a color temperature meter, but that's high-end commercial.
Digital cameras have pre-set settings for different light sources to balance white. Some you can set to a specific number to balance white.
If your camera has a custom white balance feature, with that you take a picture of something white (which is what that white strip on that disk you mentioned is for), properly expose it in the same light you'll be shooting in, and use that picture to set your white balance.

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4/17/2005 10:14:09 AM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  I'm a Canon user so I'm not positive but I know that I can shoot RAW, go into my photo program (Photoshop CS) and open my RAW image in the RAW converter thing of Photoshop before the actual program, and I can change the white balance or you could say I could tell the program what kind of light I shot my picture in and it comes out pretty good. I find it's fun to change my white balance setting when my shots are just for personal enjoyment because you can create some interesting effects. You can make midday look like sunset if you change the color temp all the way up to 10,000K. Hope this helps you a little bit.

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4/17/2005 11:55:28 AM

Maryann Ianniello   Thanks Guys

I appreciate your input.


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4/18/2005 9:42:37 AM

Michael H. Cothran   These "strips" you refer to are not for adjusting your white balance, but for printing. They do three things - they help determine your white point and black point, and the middle one sets a neutral gray for what would also be called "white balance," but in the printing process, not in the camera. You use them by taking a shot with one in the picture. Then, in your post image editing software, you would open this file, use the strip to set your white, black, and neutral gray, then open your "real" file, and adjust accordingly. I own some, and in essence, they simply do not work as conveniently as you would think. Color temperature is measure in Kevin degrees, with 5500K considered noon day sunlight, and "normal." Any light with a higher "K" rating would be cool (bluish), and light with a lower rating would be warmer (yellow). Your standard household incandescent lights are about 2800K, which is why they appear so yellow. Digital cameras, unlike film cameras have the ability to be adjusted to these different "color balances" or "white light."
For your on-camera flash or strobe, using the daylight or sunlight setting would be best since flash temperatures are designed to emulate daylight, and will be between 5000K - 6000K.
Michael H. Cothran

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4/19/2005 12:00:43 PM

John P.A. Van den Dries   Not too long ago I found this article on the Internet. I think it addresses precisely what you need to know, pictures and all. Just copy and paste it in the Address box in your Internetbrowser. It may help you decide how far you want to take the matter. My suggestion: leave the White Balance setting on auto for the time being and let the camera take care of the Coulour Temperature changes, at least for the important shots. The corrections you may have to do afterwards, preparing the shots for printing are easily done in PS of your camera software, working in RAW. Later you may want to control things yourself, to the point of using a Colour Temperature Meter with colour filters and foils. This is a completely different aspect of photography, but it is very interresting. Good Luck.

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4/19/2005 5:52:25 PM

Gregg    If your at a wedding your on the move. Custom WB takes time. I don't think you can slow the pace to take all the custom settings. Use auto. Custom is great when the flow is slow. (portraits, groups in one location. etc.)

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4/19/2005 6:44:29 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  The thing with the strips may not have made for white balance setting, but if it's white, you can use it. You can use a piece of ink jet paper. Batteries dead in your tv remote, use a monopod.
If your auto wb is accurate, makes things easier. If setting it gives better results, you're more likely to be in the same kind of light most of the time. It's simple enough to set it for one area, during or ahead of time. Then set it for when you move to another area.

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4/19/2005 7:04:43 PM

Jerry    Don't know if anyone has talked about the expodisc. You can see it at Because of the price, I was a little shy about purchasing but did get one. It does what it says. Just pop the filter on set to custom and fire. Then remove the filter and you're ready to shoot. Just remember to change when lighting conditions change.
My 2 cents. Jerry Dillard

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4/20/2005 5:04:05 AM

Maryann Ianniello   Hey Guys

I think I see the light! Thanks so much for your help. I will go onto those web sites and do more reading.

Thanks again!

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4/20/2005 6:21:44 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Top of a pringles can is said to do the same as that expo disc.

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4/20/2005 8:53:48 AM

Fool Stop   Go to

It really works.
Don't need to perform custom white balance. Just take another shot with this Whitbal and with RAW format. That's it.

You check the exposure and white balance from the reference pic and implement the figure to the rests of the crops in the same situation.

Have fun ^.^

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4/21/2005 7:38:40 AM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  For weddings, I know many photographers who shoot the whole wedding using AWB and leave it that way on the prints. They like the look they get. Others use settings that aren't true WB, but again, they like the look.

For instance, for 20D users, I know several wedding photogaphers that using the cloudy setting for WB on a sunny day, or just outdoors in general.

So, experiement and find out what you like. The closer you get to getting it the way you want in your camera, the happier you will be.


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4/21/2005 11:31:58 AM

Jerry & Karen Bengtson   White balance at wedding. Using the fold up disk you mentioned. It is available at

You shoot in RAW. You can shoot in jpg but you do not have the control afterward to correct things.
You use the disk before the wedding and take a picture of it at each location where you will be shooting. Then you use that picture to set your white balance in the camera at each location during your shoot.

Auto white balance is ok but is not near as good as setting the white balance for each shot/location.

Good luck.

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4/23/2005 3:13:24 PM

Lisa Lenderink   I know that this is an old thread...but need help. I am trying to set my cwb on my 20D I am using the ez balance (similiar to a grey card) to set my wb but I find that my cwb looks too yellow to me. Any ideas? This is for shooting w/ strobes. I had been shooting on daylight but recently find that the skin tones are a little too pink for my liking. Any ideas?

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5/4/2006 6:33:10 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Use a white card. Shoot different exposures and use the one that is just under the frame that first has the highlight indicator just starting to show. The info button on the back.

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5/4/2006 8:06:36 AM

Lisa Lenderink   Thanks Gregory. I flipped my ez balance over and set my white balance to that this morning and I like that much better! Thanks again :)

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5/4/2006 11:25:47 AM

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