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White Balance Woes



  • Ian Wilson
    Top Commenter
    I can't answer all the questions. However, if you set to Flash in C1, that should be the same as you get by setting to flash in the WB selector of your camera. The list of WB presets you get in C1 should match those that your camera offers. So for example one of the presets on offer for my Nikon D7000 is Shade; but for my compact Canon S110, Shade isn't on offer. (On the other hand, for the S110 one of the presets is Underwater, which you don't get for the D7000.) The lists match the presets on the cameras themselves.

    Also, the Kelvin number for a given setting depends on the camera. Daylight on the D7000 is 5208, but on the S110 it is 4627. So I assume it will be some other number for your 5D.

    And the tint slider may well not be at zero. For the D7000, set to daylight, the tint slider is indeed at 0.0. But for the S110 on daylight, it is at 15.2, and if I set the slider to 0.0 the image is strongly green. So that may depend on the sensor of your camera.

    Presumably the Flash setting in C1 will just mirror whatever the camera would have set had you selected the Flash preset in the camera, but I suppose that that would take no account of the particular flash you have.

    If you are doing studio work, I would have thought that setting the WB using the card would be best.

    I hardly ever use a flash. And I hardly ever set the camera to anything other than auto WB; if I don't like the result, I'll try one of the presets in C1 or tweak it to a custom setting. One of the beauties of RAW.

    Some of your images don't look much different to me between LR and C1, but the flash ones are markedly different - the C1 version is a lot less saturated than the LR one. I don't think there is a greenish tint, but eyes can be deceptive and I'm afraid my monitor isn't calibrated. (Must get round to that!)

  • Alveric
    Hi, thanks for the reply.

    BTW, I made a mistake: in the CO gallery, the photo labeled as 'Flash' is actually CO's own 'Daylight'. Flash is way, way warmer.

    Just fixed it:

    I guess the important question is: which photo looks best, with natural skin tones?
  • SFA
    They all look OK to me, though I wonder if we are looking at skin tones or makeup tones.

    If one looks at the hands holding the colour chart 1 to 4 seam to me on my system to have the same skin tone to within no discernable at the image size though different to the face of course with a different amount of light at a different angle and predsumably the hands have no (or different) makeup.

    No. 5 does indeed look a little warmer. Perhaps balancing slightly for a "cold" flash that is not so cold?

    Set it for what looks right (not necessarily a preset value) and if you are happy with that all is well.

    If you are shooting for the client then all is well if they are happy.

  • Tan68
    Oh.. I wrote a bunch of off topic stuff further below.
    May or may not be helpful... Only for WB / light temp that varies....

    For your studio, I would check manufacturers rating for your lamps.
    For a starting point, they should be rated in Kelvin or something.
    Beyond that, yes, use a color card, make presets, be done. You aren't really dealing with changing light, of course. I use a gray card (incl. dark gray, gray, light gray) wherever I can. And this may work as well for you. I would set your camera to match as best as possible and then also use presets you make in C1. Perhaps slight differences to then compare between them ?

    Other stuff below, I will leave for what it is worth..:

    WB tool was a bit of a mystery to me.
    Maybe it still is and I don't know it...

    Kelvin adds or subtracts blue
    Tint adds or subtracts red

    That is how I see it. Basically!
    So, I may pick a point to make 'neutral' = all colors the same value...
    I place a color readout marker and get started.
    I subtract some blue and the blue values change and the red value changes a tick as well. Or, I add red a couple clicks and nothing happens... then blue changes a tick.. I keep going and then red finally changes. ..........

    Point is, the addition or subtraction of blue/red is not discrete. The two sliders act primarily on either blue or red but they are still linked to each other... So, you may need to add some red to get blue where you want it... takes a little fooling around sometimes to set neutral for a point picked on a gray card. Or, more experience than I have :^)

    At times, you will adjust WB and find you need to make an adjustment to exposure/brightness for it to remain where you like. Okay. Keep going.

    So, should you preset WB in camera or not...
    I presume you are using RAW, yeah?
    I just leave auto WB on. Even if I am stitching or blending. I can set it later and, by using auto WB, I have the best guess from the camera at the time. I get home and have these options: C1 presets, C1 'auto', camera 'auto', and gray card (if I used one). This is typically a good start.

    Green casts
    I feel like I fight green as well.
    The thing that helps most is to get things as good as I can.. make a variant and then start comparing both the variant and my 'good' image as I continue to make adjustments. Or, I may start with a variant created with auto WB and compare against that.

    It is easier for me to see things look good or not with comparison. An image may look good, but side by side... no. Even like comparing TV sets in a store. Together, easy to see differences. In someone's house alone.. not so easy. also, leaving the image for a while and coming back often results in an 'I thought green was gone?!' moment and further refinement. I think you and I are not far apart in this respect... However, when comparing your variant, always make sure the brightness at your color readout point is the same. May +/- exposure = 0.02 or 0.03 or whatever is needed.

    I have tried to mark as 'sample' a few pictures I have with good skies and good grass. This helps me. Yes, the exact values are usually different but they are often helpful. Surprisingly, one blue sky is much like the other when brightness/exposure is adjusted to be the same (same at my color readout point to compare RGB)... At least, close enough to help me fight red in blue sky or yellow in grass... Of course, when I adjust brightness of the sample sky in my sample, the rest of the image may be junk, but it doesn't matter because I am using the sky as a reference... this 'sample' sky and grass idea may or may not be helpful to you..

    Getting rid of green
    You can use a green channel curve, select a point in the middle, and drag it down a bit. This is like using a sledge hammer... There is no 'greens gone' slider on WB tool but I think it best to work on casts in WB tool rather than in curves tool... I have used a sledge hammer in the form of green channel curve to help get me in the right ball park for tough things (green moss in red clay on an overcast day kicked my butt). I do this because a tough picture has frustrated me and I have given up on using two sliders in WB tool and it is easier for me to drag a one green curve to 'get close'... (American football: 'punt the ball' rather than go for first down)

    But, I do this on a variant to only get a good look to the image. Then, I go back and try to replicate those good RGB levels in WB tool using color readout points in a few key areas... I go back and do it in WB rather than with curve because doing it with curve and calling it quits can cause problems in other areas (highlights or shadow, etc)

    Color casts...
    However, I might use a color channel curve to correct a cast in part of the picture.
    Not the entire picture, now... Maybe the subject looks good. But the background is lighter and is lit by sun and not shade. Anchoring each RG-or-B color channel for shadows through midtones and then adjusting curves for the highlights with different lighting can be helpful...

    I used to try to adjust color for the entire image using curves only. I didn't understand WB tool at all then... I would end up with a color that looked okay.. sure. But I also had color channel curves that looked like sawtoothed hump monster. This caused troubles with brightness and contrast through the image.

    So, curves can be used to correct color as well.
    Try to not use a sledge hammer
    Better used as chisel...
  • Gerald Bonne
    Correction. Temp moves between blue and amber (not really red). Tint moves between green and magenta.

    For skin tones I use the skin tone white balance but I first made a custom skin tone reference using a color card. I use the SpyderCheckr but the color checkr Passport also has two color references for both caucasian and black skin. This is what I use often for images where skintone is most important (usually studio with neutral backgrounds, for outdoor I have to pick something in the middle). BE aware that if you pick a skin on make-up skin or where the people are blushing (cheeks for insatnce), that your balance will be off. Pick some area where the skintone is natural and normally tanned. I pick several samples and check the result on the kelvin scale (I pick the picker on the skin tab and then switch back to temperature tab without changing the tool again). From the various selections I take some kelvins that are in the middle or that look satisfying.

    The WB picker tool is only to get a starting point, I almost always apply some warming up according to taste.

    If you are really after perfect color neutral WB then use a grey card and the WB picker tool on the Kelvin tab instead of the skin tab.

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