Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lesson 3: The Color of Light

One of my biggest pet peeves about shooting inside the house is the terrible orange cast I see after previewing my images.  I'm sure all of you know what I'm talking about except of course those that are more advanced or professionals.  This week's lesson was all about the color of light and how to select or set the appropriate color temperature of your image (white balance).

Indoor, artificial light may not be apparent to the naked eye, but is obvious when photographed.  The 2 main types of indoor light are flourescent (purplish cast often found in warehouses or office space) and incandescent bulbs (yellowish/orange cast often found in our homes).  Since the color cast from indoor lighting is unflattering it's important to know when and how to set the appropriate color temperature within your camera to correct this issue.

Most cameras come with some pre-set white balance settings such as Auto (AWB), Daylight, Tungsten and others.  I've always left mine on Auto, however, one of my goals this year was to improve my ability to use most (if not all) manual settings when possible.  This should help improve the quality of the images I capture. With that goal in mind, the examples below will give you an idea of the vast difference between using Auto, Tungsten, and Custom white balance settings.  Since each camera is different I won't be able to give you a step-by-step tutorial but you can refer to your camera's manual for detailed instructions.

Auto (see the lovely orange cast I was talking about):

Tungsten (it's getting better... you can see the flowers are starting to look whiter):

Custom (The flowers are white and you can't see any orange cast from the indoor lighting.  Keep in mind, setting custom white balance takes a little bit of time but is worth it in my opinion.):


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  2. I would love to know how in fact you set your WB? Did you use a grey card or something?