Custom White Balance For Accurate Color

An interior designer has hired you to photograph rooms full of custom furnishings and cabinetry. Accurate color is imperative. After all, the designer knows the exact color of every fabric and finish.

To complicate the task even further, interior shoots are almost always a mixture of light sources—this shoot is no exception.

When you mix tungsten lights with a stream of daylight plus add a splash of flash, it’s almost impossible for the Auto White Balance setting on your camera to capture accurate colors. (See “Auto White Balance” photo top left.)

And unless your camera has some magic setting missing in my Canon, there is no white balance setting for “Mixed Light Sources.”

Your camera, however, does offer a solution. It’s called Custom White Balance, and it is easy to use. (See “Custom White Balance” photo top right.)

For my Canon dSLR I simply need to give it a reference. To do this I photograph a white object or 18 % gray card in the same light illuminating the subject.

For this shoot I used a Photovision Calibration Target for my reference shot. I simply filled the frame with the target and took a correctly exposed picture. (See “Reference Photo” below.) From there it’s a few simple steps to complete the Custom White Balance setup. (See your camera manual for exact instructions.)

After setting the Custom White Balance I always take a test shot with the target in the photograph. If the target’s colors look accurate, I’m good to shoot away. Plus, should I see the need to fine-tune the color, the test shot is used to click white balance in post-production. (See “Target After CWB” photo below.)

In my experience if you want accurate color right out of the camera—Custom White Balance—is the quickest way to get there.




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