Custom White Balance


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Feb 27, 2006
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Who uses custom white balances and how do you do it? judge color casts, color tones? What's appropriate?

I am sure there are other resources, but real world is what I am looking for.
I've tried it but can't say I'm 100% happy 100% of the time. User error probably but easy fix in PP. That said I'm often guilty of forgetting to set my WB for the prevaling conditions.
In studio it's set to a custom WB that matches the lights, very seldom need to adjust. Outside I use auto WB, and adjust by eye post on landscapes, for any portrait in ambient light I use a WB target then adjust post.
Auto white balance for me, if I don't like the result it's no problem with Photoshop...
way back when i shot IR i would set a custom white balance based off of green. but it was one of those set it once and forget it deals. the only time i set a custom white balance is when i shoot during our extended family dinners. i suck at figuring out skin tones so i'll shoot something white under the room lights and just use that wb for the day. it doesn't always work great, but it does better than i can do by myself.

my fuji camera is better at figuring out skin tones than my sony. so i leave the fuji on auto wb. not so much on the sony.
I do it at sporting events a lot. I set the camera in live view mode and I pull up the custom WB settings and adjust it on the back of the camera to match what I see in front of me. That typically gets me close enough to start with.

When in studio environment, I use my color checker passport to set WB in the lighting that I have and use the camera to set it up for me. That generally works but I find it gives it a little warmer color than I like. But I can adjust that in post.
I always set my WB and Auto isn’t one of them.
Auto balance too, then quick correction in any app available. I don't like photoshop, especially for its price. Could've been better

All my cameras are set on Auto WB… at least I know I will be in
friendly waters. When I need paramount precision, I pull out the
neutral grey card and take a shot of it in the light conditions.
Who uses custom white balances and how do you do it? judge color casts, color tones? What's appropriate?

I am sure there are other resources, but real world is what I am looking for.
I have changed WB a couple of times to get more blue at blue hour. I think it was one of the flourscent settings. Much of the time outdoors my Nikons do a decent job on auto most of the time.
Only during post processing. I shoot unmodified to get the raw results. I then may apply one of Nikon's filters to get the image close to neutral as possible. If it needs more tweaking, then I will fine tune after applying the filter in post.
I have a neutral gray card but hardly ever unearth it. Usually shoot auto-wb and I always shoot raw, so it's easy to take up in post.
Occasionally inside with mixed incandescent lighting I will use a supplemental flash with a CTO gel and lower the camera custom white balance. Outside in late evening or shade CTB gel on the flash and a custom camera white balance in the 7-10k range, gives a warmer tone to the entire image.
With my full spectrum infrared Sony A7R, using yellow, orange and red filters can create some interesting colour and contrasts. However, unless you're making B&W shots, you will need to choose a colour balance in the camera or in post processing to create a nice palette. I often do a custom balance through the filter if I'm shooting RAW+JPG so that the JPG's are quicker to process. If I really like them, I'll process the corresponding RAW to match.
I do a custom white balance on my nikon cameras using a white card. Then in the first photo include a color checker passport and if I change the lighting, another shot with the ccpp. In post, open the software and the colors snap to perfect. But as a portrait artist, I am not in the reality business, I am in the flattery business so from the ccpp in the first photo I can click on a warming patch and slightly warm the image to taste. Then apply the change to all images in that light. I am getting ready to try it with my color film image scans. Scan with my nikon d850 and using negative pro convert to color positive. Use the ccpp to nail color. I expect it will make the difficult process of converting color scans and getting colors right so close only fine tuning is needed. The manufacturer of negative pro tells me it will not eliminate the color palette of the film stocks that are a major reason I shoot color film... huge range into highlights as well.

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