Using white balance to take better photos

white balance

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerWhite Balance is a term that may seem foreign to most photographers. Especially as a setting that you could adjust that would make a drastic impact on your photos.

If you ever have taken a photo inside with fluorescent lights as your main source of lighting, you may notice a slight “bluish” look to your photos.

Why did this happen? All light sources have different colour tones based on a temperature reading scale ranging from red (warm) to blue (cold) known as Kelvin (K).

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Your choice of lighting will impact the overall look of your image and the actual colours shown in your photo. A photo mainly lit with a candle will give off a slightly deep orange colour tone. Likewise a photo mainly lit by fluorescent lights will give off a light bluish colour tone. Usually undetectable by the naked eye, we only really notice the difference when we look and compare photos side by side.

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The term ‘White balance’ (WB) is the process of removing unnatural colour tones in photos. All FUJIFILM Digital cameras have ‘White Balance’ controls to help change or correct these colour tones.

Why would a photographer need to change the camera’s white balance setting? Depending on the subject and lighting source used, a photographer can adjust the camera’s white balance setting to properly show colours as the naked eye sees them or to change the “mood” of a particular photo.


So why experiment with white balance?

You may find that the Auto White Balance setting corrects colour tones when you don’t want it to. This can happen with sunsets or landscapes, where the colour of the light is an integral part of the picture. By using one of the preset settings, you can better control the colour tone of your  photos based on the light source used. In addition to one of these “preset” settings, most FUJIFILM cameras offer the ability to pick a custom white balance setting also known as colour temperature (measured in Kelvin).

Here are some of the most commonly found and used white balance settings in Fujifilm cameras:

Auto – this is where the camera takes continuous readings of the light sources and makes adjustments automatically to the colour tone of the photo.

Daylight/Sunny/Fine – not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly ‘normal’ white balance settings.

Tungsten/Incandescent– this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors when traditional incandescent lighting is used. It generally cools down the colors in photos.

Fluorescent – this compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.

Shade – the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.

Colour Temperature – This option allows you to select the colour temperature using the measurement known as Kelvin, this gives you even more creative control. And without getting too technical here’s our handy hint: If your photos are coming out yellow/orange turn the temperature down (lower number value, for example 2500K) and if they are a bluish colour tone, turn the temperature up (higher number value, for example 8300K). You will soon pick up what lighting environments are around which value of Kelvin.

The other option you have is to shoot in RAW, select Auto White Balance and adjust later in post processing. This does give you more flexibility after the shoot but will add more time to your processing, plus a bit more technical know-how to get best results.

As you can see above the white balance chosen for a shot can make a huge difference to the feel of an image and in some cases what season the image was taken in.

We hope you have found this tutorial helpful and that it will get you out and about experimenting with white balance.

And as an added bonus, check out FujiGuy Billy as he shows you how to get your White Balance settings up and running in camera here.

 

Maria from Chio Photography shares her tips to take better pictures

ChioAs a freelance photographer I have had to learn marketing, accounts, admin and many other skills that are required to run a business and I think other freelancers and small businesses should consider photography as one of the main skills required to enhance their business’ professional look. If you are a business owner, think about how you are coming across to your customers, your images are your first impression.

A professional look isn’t that difficult to achieve. There are plenty of tutorials online and a wide range of cameras to suit everyone with any level of photography skills, so there is no excuse to having poor quality images to represent your business.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to teach some workshops to young entrepreneurs on easy professional photography. I brought the Fujifilm X-A2 with me to show them how there is no need for big and expensive cameras that can be difficult to understand to achieve that professional look. The X-A2 is easy to operate and it is the perfect choice for those looking for professional results without complications. It is also ideal for on-the-go shoots thanks to its size and weight. One of my favourite features is the wireless file transfer, I love that I can instantly transfer any photo on to my phone and upload it straight to my Instagram; very handy for those interested in Social Media (who isn’t?).

So, with the X-A2 in one hand and a bunch of props in the other I was ready to show my students how to easily achieve professional looking images. Do you want to know how? Here we go:

Background

Many people don’t pay attention to what is behind the subject they are photographing. It is very important! It makes most of the picture. Your background can enhance or shrink your subject. Make sure there are no distractions, and if you can’t avoid them, then use your aperture to blur them out and focus in your subject.

An easy way of creating a DIY background for small objects or product photography is using wrapping paper. The good thing about this technique is that you can pick from the simplest and classic white background to any other print that you can find in the shop that will go well with the theme.

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Lighting

No one wants a photo that is too dark or too light to see anything. Having your camera in automatic is a save way of making sure your photo is going to be acceptable. I have always thought that using the preset profiles in cameras are nothing to be ashamed of, after all camera makers are great experts and will not adjust the presets to something that wouldn’t work.

On the other hand, if you have knowledge of aperture and shutter speed (and even if you don’t, just experiment!) don’t be afraid of switching to manual and adding a personal touch by playing with light. Sometimes breaking the rules and accidents make the most amazing pictures.

I personally like to use harsh lighting in my favour, for example, on those rare super sunny days where there are no clouds (that we are sometimes lucky enough to experience in the UK!) or in a situation where I have the light source opposite to me and not behind me, I like to create high contrast dramatic images.

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Composition

Find the best composition to enhance your subject. No one looks their best at every angle. Again, background and lighting affects the whole of the final image, and the angle where you are shooting from can change these two factors. You need to find the perfect combination. If your subject is surrounded by colour and contrast, the viewer might be distracted when looking at the image, crop distractions from the background. Also find the angle with the best lighting, if you want a dramatic effect, maybe shoot against the light source, if you want a softer and smoother effect, make sure the light is not directly behind the camera. Last but not least, if your subject has a more appealing side, then make sure you are shooting the right side!

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These are my 3 easy points to achieve professional looking images. Now go on and try it! Don’t forget to let me know how it goes.


For more of Maria’s work

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