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Old Sep 16, 2010, 11:47 AM   #1
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Default Help with white balance

I am curious how often the white balance usually needs to be adjusted. When I am outdoors in sunlight or when I use the flash indoors, auto white balance seems to work great. All the whites look white. But I noticed when I am taking pictures indoors at night without the flash, and the only light in the room is coming from a single fixture or two (in this case, with one of those energy saver fluorescent bulbs), whites do not appear white using AWB. But to the eye, it doesn't look real white in the room either, it does look like it has a tint to it because it is not real bright. I noticed this same thing on my old camera and on the T1i now. So I took a shot of a white tshirt I was wearing and set that to custom white balance and took some shots, and then the white clothes and white walls in the room looked very white (like they did when I used the flash). So I am just wondering if white balance needs to be constantly adjusted like that depending on the room you are in. I guess it's not really the camera's fault that the auto white balance does not look white in the situation I mentioned because it doesn't look that white to the eye either, right? So white balance should make whites look like they are actually white, but not how it may look to the eye at the time, especially if it is dim in the room? If someone could just elaborate on white balance and how they use it, that might be helpful. Thanks.
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 12:08 PM   #2
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Some of users use white t-shirt like you or just something white, some of them uses a non-reflective white office paper or thicker white photograph paper, some of them uses gray card, some of users use presets, some of users use kelvins, for me i use AWB and i do postproduction if i really need it.
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 1:22 PM   #3
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Setting a custom white balance is always best, if the lighting is consistant (all the light sources are the same.) If you'll be shooting where some of the light sources are incandescent (yellow) and some are florescent (blue-green), auto white balance is your best bet.

I use an 18% gray lens cleaning cloth (like this: http://www.adorama.com/CPMFCGXL.html) to set a custom white balance. It can also be used to set exposure, and clean my lenses too!
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 2:01 PM   #4
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I just use auto white balance and adjust in PP if it doesn't look natural.

It's an interesting point you raise though which I've wondered about myself - if I have a white sheet of paper lit by a red light, surely it should appear red and not be 'corrected' to appear white. Also how can you tell the difference between an underexposed photo of a sheet of white paper and a correctly exposed photo of a piece of grey paper?
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 2:15 PM   #5
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The gray card should be under same light condition with the object.
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 2:21 PM   #6
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The cards are great - IF you have time and IF you're going to stay in the same exact light temperature. So it's great if you set it for a graduation ceremony or something. But in a house where you might move from room to room you'll find it doesn't work as well because the setting needs to be different. This is a situation where the easiest thing is to shoot RAW. Shoot AWB in raw and fix it in RAW. For those shots in one lighting situation you simply make the same adjustment to each photo. Not saying this is the best way - just the way I've found to be easiest. Doesn't add a lot of time to PP because you only need to figure out the adjustment a couple times. AND, I'll do you one even better: if you do the adjustment by temperature setting and shoot in that environment a lot - you simply set your WB setting to that value whenever you're in that environment (and still shoot RAW just in case but at least this way you have a better starting point).
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 2:32 PM   #7
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I did notice that switching it to incandescent in a certain situation did make it look more white. So that is a lot faster than having to set the custom each time. I will check out RAW later. I need to go pick up a new card though because I still am just using the 2GB that came with it and that will fill up way fast in RAW. So just out of curiousity, like in PSE which I use now, is there just some "white balance" adjustment tool in there, or do you have to make manual adjustments? I don't do a lot of PP now, mainly because I don't print that many pictures and most are just stuck on the computer, but I plan to do more printing and more slideshows etc. I typically just change the levels, or the contrast, something simple like that. Even the auto correct seems to work sometimes. Is that adequate for most pictures in PP, or do most of you spend more time? (I guess this got a little off subject, sorry!)
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 3:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj76 View Post
... So just out of curiousity, like in PSE which I use now, is there just some "white balance" adjustment tool in there ...
Enhance | Adjust Color | Remove Color Cast
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 5:52 PM   #9
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Thanks for those instructions, that is very simple to do. So if you can make those corrections on JPEGs, what is the difference between correcting those color casts in JPEG and in RAW? Can you just make more corrections in RAW?
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Old Sep 16, 2010, 6:03 PM   #10
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Yes, those color corrections require specifying what type of color cast to remove. Raw allows you to do a lot more color corrections - for instance you can simply make slight changes in color temperature until things look correct. Sometimes remove color cast works easily and sometimes it doesn't. Adjustments in RAW will work in just about any situation - faster and easier. There are some tools now which I believe allow you to perform WB corrections on JPEG but I haven't used them.
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