Latest From The Phoblographer

Photography Cheat Sheet: White Balance Presets Guide

Break away from your camera’s Auto white balance setting with this nifty guide on the other white balance presets at your disposal.

It may seem like a good idea to stick to the Auto white balance setting and let your camera figure things out on its own. One less setting to worry about, right? If you’re consistently happy about your results, you may not find it necessary to change to another setting. However, it always helps to learn more about the other options that you can use, especially if you’re shooting with artificial lighting or tricky lighting situations. For this, we bring yet another useful photography cheat sheet that you can use as a reference.

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Learn White Balance Basics to Achieve Accurate Colors

We hear about the importance of getting the white balance right all the time. This quick tutorial shows us how we can do that to get great colors in our photos.

How do you make sure the colors in your photos are as accurate as you saw them? You set the white balance on your camera or do it in post-processing. In a quick tutorial by J.T. of the Run N Gun channel, he explains how this is done through a variety of white balance presets and by using your own settings.

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How White Balance Effects Editing a Black and White Photo

Who would’ve ever thought that white balance is something that’s so very important to an image and especially so in black and white? Believe it or not, most people wouldn’t think so. They’re perfectly content with going along with whatever the camera gives them in auto. Even further, many folks never even care to edit their white balance. White balance can surely affect the colors in an image but they’ll really affect the way that the tones in black and white photography works out too. We’re going to show you how white balance can greatly alter your black and white image and the theories behind it.

The Theory

If you’ve ever seen the movie Blade Runner, consider how many of the scenes in the cities would have looked if the scenes were lit warmer. It would have surely given off a significantly different feel but that would also mean that the entire color scheme would be completely different. I face this all the time when I’m reviewing cameras and lenses and if you want to experience it for yourself, I suggest going out during the golden hour and the blue hour and shooting photos. Try auto white balance, Tungsten at 3200K, and Daylight at 5600K white balances. What you’ll find it that the scenes will all look much different. The sky, man made lights, the sun, etc will all be dramatically different. For starters, Tungsten white balance tends to make images more blue while daylight tends to make them warmer. Need more proof of this? Go into a bar at night or any place lit with candles. Shoot at both white balances and you’ll see a pretty major difference. That difference will convert itself over via color editing.

Now let’s go deeper:

  • Daylight white balance will make a scene warmer. So all the warmer colors will tend to blend into one another
  • Tungsten white balance will make a scene cooler, so the cooler toned colors will blend into one another
  • This affects a variety of things such as skin tones, overall feel of the image, and most of all the color channels.

Let’s take a closer look at this now.

The Images in Color

This is the scene that we’re going to study right now. There are three main light sources: the natural window lighting coming from behind Mike camera left, the tungsten lighting behind me giving off the warmer look and the iPhone. Mike has lighter toned skin and so in this scene and with this white balance the entire scene seems sort of normal to how we would see the scene in real life. Those look like natural skin tones. The background all looks natural. It seems about right.

Now answer these questions:

  • What colors are most prevalent in the scene?
  • Who or what is the main subject of the photo?
  • What colors are prevalent on the main subject?
  • What colors are prevalent in the rest of the scene and that differ from the subject?
  • Do the colors tend to bleed into one another?

Answer those, and you’ll see a lot of similarities. For the record, this white balance is 5600k daylight.

Now this scene is 3200k tungsten. As you can clearly see, the entire scene changes here. Answer the same questions as above. This scene has a much greater presence of blues and purples due to the white balance.

The Conversions

Here’s the top image at 5600K white balance converted to black and white in Capture One.

Here’s the image at 3200 converted to black and white in Capture One.

The Edits

5600K Edited

Here I was able to create a low contrast image simply because red tends to dominate the entire scene. Mike has very red undertones and his skin is associated with Orange, Red and Yellow channels in Capture One. Lightroom would do the same thing.

5600K Edited: Skin tones affected by Red and Yellow

Try to work with those color channels and you’ll be affecting the entire scene. No good.

3200K Edited for Skin Tones

But try it in Tungsten and you’ll find that the scene is much easier to work with. You’ll get a much more pleasing black and white image where you can have a ton of clear separation of his skin tones and the rest of the scene. That makes Mike stand out from the scene more. We haven’t even gotten into editing for Contrast, brightness, etc. But those can also surely be taken into account. However, you don’t need to because those are much more globalized adjustments and can often lead to very destructive editing of a photo. Working with color channels though does that much less so.

Tutorial Video: How Custom White Balance Makes Editing Much Better Than Auto

Custom white balance will speed up your workflow so much more.

If you’re a photographer who shoots in auto white balance, stop. Can you fix it in post? Yes. Will it really, truly help you? No, not really. I’ve been very much of the opinion and idea that photographers should go into shooting with a creative vision of some sort to help them create images that are more unique to them, and a customized white balance is only the start of this. It’s bound to help you create images that someone else shooting the exact same thing most likely won’t get. Of course, you’re starting with the content, but why not go further?

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How to Get Film-like Warm Skin Tones With Daylight White Balance

One of the reasons I use specific white balances like Daylight when shooting photos is because it tends to take the guesswork out of editing and colors. Daylight white balance is balanced to be fairly warm and to counteract the already very cool light that daylight is. Though many times there are situations where you’d rather have warm skin tones in the scene. For the most part, what people tend to do is just work with the white balance to make the skin warmer but then in the process just make the whole scene warmer.

This happens a whole lot when working during the blue hour, in overcast weather etc.

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The Truth About How White Balance And Your Camera Actually Work

There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t care about white balance in the same way that you care about manual control over the exposure of the image. The way that color is rendered in a photo can completely change the way that it appears and in order to get the absolute best color, you should use manual control over your white balance in the same way that you manually control the ISO, aperture and shutter speeds. While manufacturers sit there and try in vain to get better high ISO results and more dynamic range, they’re not giving us what can possibly provide for even more creative freedom: better color control. The majority of cameras don’t provide incredibly accurate color control or gradation from their sensors. Film arguably does a better job of this in the right situations but digital cameras are capable of getting pretty darned close to real results.

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How Daylight White Balance Can Make You a Better Photographer

For the past year or so, I’ve been doing a special experiment with the way I shoot photos: I’ve been working almost exclusively with daylight white balance. Crazy, right? Especially when these days the auto white balance setting seems to do such a great job. Plus, when you consider how easy post-production is these days, it almost makes no sense. But indeed it does. Shooting a bit more restrained lets you think in a different way.

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Digital to Analog: Daylight White Balance in Various Lighting Scenarios

As more and more photographers start going from digital to analog, we wanted to teach everyone about a big part of how you not only see light, but also color. Note that most film is balanced to daylight, so if you go about shooting with it in various situations, you’ll either like the results or you won’t.

So with that said, we’ve compiled a number of images from our archives showing you how colors in a scene render when using daylight white balance. This post encompasses mostly digital photos, and you should know when you go into a film lab to get your images developed, sometimes a technician will try to “fix the images”. But you should keep this in mind regardless to get your most desired results.

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Capture One Pro 8.2 Gives You More Advanced Control Over White Balance

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Today, Phase One updated their Capture One Pro software to give much more advanced controls over white balancing that we haven’t seen previously. The software lets you selectively adjust the global white balance–which is what many programs do, but they take it a step further. Phase One has an extra panel that lets you selectively choose the white balance setting of the highlights, shadows and midtones.This comes in great handy when working with mixed lighting situations but it also means that you’ve got more versatility over how your image looks in the end.

In fact, the new tool is being encouraged for use with a dual monitor setup (providing both have been calibrated the same). You can adjust the white balance color and then adjust the intensity of said white balance and how much it affects the image.

The closest thing that Adobe Lightroom 5 can do is split toning, and even then you need to balance out specifics between the shadows and highlights. Midtone control isn’t given, but perhaps we will get it in a future update.

A demo video and a list of updates to Capture One Pro 8.2 are after the jump.

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Useful Photography Tip #128: How to Get the Best White Balance of Your Image

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Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

While you can manually white balance in the camera with the aid of something like the ExpoDisk, you might not always have the time to do so during a shooting situation. Providing that you’ve shot in RAW, you can still get a great deal of latitude in the editing process. To get the best white balance though, you should start a very neutral point. The way to do this is to start with something along the lines of what’s known as middle gray.

Start by using the eyedropper tool next to the white balance sliders in Adobe Lightroom and scrolling it over the image. You’ll need to find the pixels that are the closest to 50% in the RGB sections, which you can see as you scroll over the areas. In order to save time, try looking at the areas where the darkest blacks meet the whites in the image if that’s possible. Once you have something close, select those pixels and you’ll get something near to a neutral white balance.

From that point, you can manipulate the image to be either warmer or cooler and set your tint levels accordingly to how you want them to be.

Give it a shot. Then when you’re done with this, check out our tips on how to get better color.

ExpoImaging Introduces The ExpoDisc 2.0 Professional White Balance Filter


Most of us here believe auto white balance is not your friend. We smiled when we learned Expoimaging introduced the Expodisc 2.0. We really liked the original Expodisc. The Expodisc can work with any camera with a custom white balance setting.

The Exppdisc 2.0 can meter for 18% incident exposure and has 2 levels of warming gels, which can be inserted into a recesses on the face of the ExpoDisc. The user can select for warmer skin tones in portraits. With the original version you had to purchase a second expodisc for warmer tones.

The Mount design has been improved as well with a low profile thread. Initially the Expodisc 2.0 will be released with a 77mm filter  size. This size can be used with smaller threads by holding the Expodisc in front of the lens. Smaller filters sizes will be available in the future. The best part of the news is that the newer version is cheaper. It will be priced at $49.95.

A full list of details on the ExpoDisc 2.0 can be found here.

Weekend Humor: Why Auto White Balance’s Feelings Are Hurt

julius motal the phoblographer leica dlux 6 image 9

Weekend Humor isn’t meant to be taken seriously. So don’t. We’re serious.

In a recent blog post, Ibarionex Perello wrote about the perils of using auto white balance in that it can deliver inaccurate results. He urged the reader to err on the side of custom white balance and presets in order to get a better understanding of light. Unfortunately, Ibarionex didn’t realize how sensitive auto white balance really is, and what follows is a short, yet emotional, letter that Auto White Balance wrote. Continue reading…

Why Auto White Balance Isn’t Your Friend


I know the title for this article is very strong, but in all honesty, I am not fan of automatic white balance. Though, it seems convenient and the word “automatic” holds a lot of promise, the truth is that auto white balance doesn’t deliver consistent and accurate results that work for me.

Yes, sometimes it nails it, but sometimes it doesn’t and that variance can happen even when you are shooting the same subject or scene. This is because the camera is evaluating the tones and colors that are passing through the lens and trying to determine on the fly what the best white balance should be. If there is a change in the elements in the scene, it can lead to a shift in white balance that though subtle can result in differences in color for the very same subject. This makes for a lot of work in post.

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These Game of Thrones Inspired Portraits Used Lightroom’s White Balance Brush as the Kicker


Game of Thrones mania has been happening–especially with the recent season premiere. Photographer Alex Huff (who also works at Borrow Lenses as their Social Media Coordinator) is a big fan of the series and recently worked with 500px on a tutorial of how she created the portraits above. While the portraits themselves were quite simple, it was all about the editing to get the effects similar to the Braveheart style look that they possess.

And how’d she do it? Instead of using two lights and gelling one combined with effective flagging, Alex demonstrated just how kick ass Lightroom 4 is by using the white balancing brush to make one side of her subject’s face blue. All of this is also in combination with correct knowledge of color theory–something that we emphasize with nearly every review we do in regards to raw file versatility. This was only possible before in Photoshop, but it’s been part fo Adobe Lightroom 4 since the start.

If you’re up for a really good refresher course, we recommend that you check out the tutorial.

Via the 500px Blog

Setting Your White Balance Correctly Using a White Coffee Cup Lid

While hunched over a coffee cup and mentally composing an image, I realize the light is weird. I am seeing multiple light bulbs casting different colors of light. I realize the best image result will come from my setting the white balance, but I do not have an Expodisc or a grey card available. Not all is lost however. I do have a coffee cup lid. With that, white balance can be set. I usually keep my camera on auto white balance and make note of the light to adjust things later. That way, I can get a decent white balance setting. There are many ways to set the white balance. Here are some examples.

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The Best Leica Lenses for Black and White Film Photography

Black and white film lovers rejoice!

Film has to be one of the most fun photography experiences we have! Some of us just want to create in a completely different way. Indeed, film does a lot of things that digital doesn’t. When used properly, it will ultimately make you think more about your photos before shooting. You’ll pay a lot of attention to the frame before you shoot. And eventually, you’ll become a master of the format. If you’re looking for the best Leica lenses for black and white film photography, check out our selects.

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Look in Awe at the “Life in Black and White” GuruShots Contest Winners

These photos from the GuruShots Life in Black and White contest are going to make you want to grab your camera.

GuruShots just got done with their Life in Black and White photo contest that challenged photographers to share photos with that classic look everyone loves. Black and white photography has always been a huge source of inspiration for lots of us. And many photographers even today only want to shoot in black and white. Lots of folks still want to do the work in post-production. And that’s fine! What matters at the end of it all is how the photo looks. That’s even more important with a contest. So curl up at home and check out the exceptional entries into this contest. For the best viewing experience, we recommend that you grab a cup of coffee and scroll through on your desktop. Or curl up with your laptop, sit back, and take in these shots.

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Photography Cheat Sheet: How to Make Great Black and White Images

Getting stunning black and white images is all about using the right techniques, as today’s photography cheat sheet tells us!

When it comes to black and white photography, adapting a different mindset is necessary. There’s more to it than shooting with your camera in monochrome mode. Instead of evaluating a scene through eye-catching colors, you’ll need to look closely at the balance between light and shadows, and of light elements against dark ones. It will definitely take a lot of practice, but with photography cheat sheets like our featured guide today, you’ll have a jump start to making those impressive black and white images.

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Review: Ilford ORTHO Plus ISO 80 Black and White Film (35mm)

Ilford ORTHO Plus is a fine grain film that can get a whole lot of detail and treats reds/oranges like darks.

When Ilford ORTHO Plus launched last year, we were very curious about it. It’s a low grain, high detail film that needs a lot of light. But most interesting is its lack of sensitivity to reds and oranges. What this means is that the red leaves of trees during the autumn will come out looking dark. Red and orange sand will be very dark. Red cars and lipstick will be nearly pitch black. So when it comes to creativity, Ilford ORTHO Plus allows a photographer to have a more playful mind.

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