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You have seen that white balance is the key to getting accurate color in your images, and you have probably already discovered that auto white balance does a pretty good job most of the time. In bright daylight, tungsten light, several different kinds of fluorescent light--even in mixed lighting situations-- auto white balance can do a good job of figuring out a white balance setting that will give you good color. What can trip up white balance on many cameras is shade. So it's going to vary from camera to camera. You are going to want to check it out on yours. Let me show you what I mean though. I am going to take a portrait of Samara here, and let's start which my exposure settings.
I am on auto white balance. I want to blur out the background, so that's going to mean a wide aperture. So I am aperture priority mode. I have opened my lens up all the way to f 4. That's as wide open as I go on this particular lens. When I meter that, I get a shutter speed of a 45th of a second. That's little slow for someone who is just trying to stand there for a long while I talk. So I am going to up my ISO. If I take my ISO up ISO 400, that buys me two stops, which gets me up to a 180th. That's going to be good for really making sure that she is sharp.
So let me take the shot, and here you can see we've got a white balance problem. Now, you may not spot it right away. You may go, "Well, I don't know. That looks okay." Your eye is constantly correcting the color that you are seeing. Let me show you what it looks like if we switch to a different white balance. Right now, she doesn't have a lot of warmth in her skin. She has got a kind of cold pallor that we want to get rid of. So I am going to switch my camera's white balance over to shady white balance and take another shot.
This is already looking much better. Look at the difference. She is much warmer. Her skin actually has some color to it. She is starting to look a little orange though, and that may be because the shade preset on this particular camera just isn't right for this particular type of shade. Depending on how much coverage there is, what time of day it is, we can have a lot of variations from one type of shade to another. So I am going to switch to another white balance preset. And as you have seen already, these presets are simply the camera manufactures idea of what a correct white balance setting is for particular circumstances.
I am now in cloudy white balance. So let's take an example of that. This is better. She is still little bit too orange. So what I want to do now is switch to a full manual white balance. Again, these presets are the factory ideas of what is a good white balance setting for a particular situation, but let's actually just build a white balance for this exact situation. Most cameras, particularly digital SLR, will have a fully manual white balance option. Now the way this is going to work is I have here a white piece of paper. I am going to give this to her.
She is going to hold it up. Now I am getting it to her because I need this white piece of paper in the light where I am shooting. If I was to simply hold it out here, this is no good because this is all lit up. That's not where she is standing. So I am going to give this her and ask her to hold it, and I am going to take a shot of it. It doesn't tell matter what my camera settings are. I am going ahead and just stick it back on white balance for a minute. I am going to zoom in, and I am going to take a shot, and this is all it is. It's a shot of a white piece of paper. One thing to note is if you fill the entire frame with the white piece of paper, you may trip up your camera's auto focus mechanism.
So I leave a little bit of an edge, so I can focus on that. Take a shot of the white piece of paper. Now I am just going to take this out of her hand because we are done with that. Thank you very much. What I do now--and this is going to vary from camera to camera--on this particular camera, what I do is I go into the menu, and I tell it this picture that I took is the source for my white balance setting. It's going to analyze that and say okay. Now on the top of the camera, I dial in manual white balance, and I am ready to take another shot. So let's do that.
Here is the result. It's not dramatically different from cloudy white balance, but it is little bit better. It's a little less saturated. So in most cases, if you can manage to pull off a manual white that's the way to go-- a fully manual white balance of getting a white object out there and focusing your white balance mechanism on it. It's going to particularly be good in shady situations like this. Mixed lighting situations, say you have got sun light streaming into a fluorescently lit office somewhere-- that can really confuse in auto mechanism. There will be other times where it's just not possible to get a white object out there into your scene, because maybe you are shooting a landscape, or it's too far away, or something like that, and for those time there is another option.
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