Most of the professional photographers make sure, white’s stay white. Often we are challenged with tricky lighting conditions which make deciding on a white balance difficult. JPEG shooters are more vulnerable since the scope for colour correction is limited in post-production.
However, even if you’re a RAW shooter it is important to get WB close to perfect right in the camera. A bride on her wedding day looking resplendent in her saree would be disappointed if you supply her with photographs wherein her saree colour is way off. It happens quite a lot in wedding photography, purples turn into blue. Since the amateur photographer is lost in other aspects(composition, lighting etc) of the photograph, it(WB) gets easily hood-winked. However, the bride and her family are the first to spot the mistake. In rare cases, they might not complain but you are sure to lose the client for a future photo assignment.
In order to avoid such an unpleasant scenario, one should be careful about the WB during shooting. Often WB is a subjective topic. Some like their pictures to be warmer whereas others opt for the most neutral colours. I fall in the latter category. I do tweak the WB to one other than the prefect when I feel the need for it. Often I proceed with setting the camera’s white balance to a ‘preset’ closer to the lighting condition I am shooting in. When I shoot under mixed lighting conditions, I make sure to get a “Grey Card” reading from my subject. Of-course, I always shoot in RAW. Combination of these two methods give me a head-start when I have the photographs over the computer post shoot. Most often, the WB is spot on or close enough. The little adjustment(if required) is easily handled in post-production.
In the first part, I told you how to make a 18% Grey Card for yourself. Now, its time you pull out that grey card as I’ll teach you how to set ‘Custom White Balance’ while shooting in your Canon EOS DSLR. No need to worry, its fairly simple.
IMP - Shoot Grey Card in the SAME LIGHT
A flash-gun can do wonders to your photography. Simply using a flash in your photos can elevate them to a new level altogether. However, flash in his primary form is very unattractive & often needs to be used along-with other accessories like reflector, diffuser, flash gels etc to create the desired effect in the photographs. In this article, I’ll talk about flash gels. About creating flash gel for yourself.
If you’re serious about exposure & colour balance in your photographs, you must use an “18% Grey Card”. Though today Auto White Balance has come a long way & gives pretty great results most of the time, it does gets fooled at times under tricky mixed lighting situations. Here the grey card will come at your rescue. It will also prevent a lot of your time during post-processing & save you the hassle of correcting WB & exposure. In first part of this article, I’ll teach you how to make a 18% Grey Card for yourself. I highly recommend to make this DIY 18% Grey Card to understand(practise) about exposure & colour correction. This DIY 18% Grey Card isn’t technically perfect but will still give you close to accurate results in your photographs. Once you get a hang of exposure & colour corrections in depth, consider purchasing the commercially available Kodak 18% Grey Card for accurate results.
Things you’ll require:
1) Image Editing Software supporting Layers. I recommend GIMP, its great & free too.
2) Printer(Alternately go to your nearest cyber-cafe to take a printout)
3) White Card-Board(Thick)
Click to Enlarge
1) Open GIMP. Hit File>New. In the new file creation dialog box, select A4(300ppi) & click OK.
2) Now go to Layer menu & select ‘Duplicate Layer‘.
3) Now press ‘Shift + B’ to select ‘Bucket Fill Tool’. Ensure that ‘Black’ colour is selected as foreground colour. Now click the cursor on the duplicated layer & the layer should be filled with black colour. Now from the GIMP toolbar adjust its opacity to 50%. Save the file as tiff.
4) Now just take a printout of this file on an A4 paper sheet. After that, cut the printed A4 sheet into four equal pieces & stick the pieces over the white card-board. Ensure you cut the card-board pieces slightly bigger than the grey card pieces so you can hand-hold them without ruining the grey area.
There you’ve it. Your 18% Grey Card is ready to use. Keep these four pieces in a ziplock bag & into your camera bag. In the next article, I’ll teach you how to use these grey cards.