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Pro Tips to Avoid White Balance Problems

White balance problems often happen when you shoot indoors under fluorescent, incandescent, or just “them regular ol’ light bulbs.” Of course, you don’t generally find out about them until you open the photos later on your computer and all the shots have either a yellowish, or greenish, or blueish color cast. By default, your camera is set to Auto White Balance, which works pretty well outdoors, but generally doesn’t work worth a darn indoors. The pros use three methods to avoid white balance problems when they shoot: (1) They go into the camera and choose a preset white balance setting that matches the lighting they’re shooting in (it’s easier than you think—just go to your camera’s white balance section, and choose either Incandescent [for regular indoor lighting] or Fluorescent [for typical office lighting]). You can choose preset white balance settings for outdoor shots as well, and you’ll get more realistic colors there, too. (2) They create a custom white balance. Luckily, your camera will do most of the work for you if you just put a neutral gray card (you can find these at any camera store or B&H Photo) about 8 to 10 inches in front of your lens, and zoom in/out so the card fills your frame. Then, go to your camera’s custom white balance menu and set it up to measure what it sees to create a custom white balance (it’s easier than it sounds—just take a peek in your camera’s manual). And, (3) they shoot in RAW format, so they don’t worry about white balance, because they can choose the white balance after the fact, either in Adobe Photoshop’s Camera Raw or in their RAW processing software (if they don’t use Photoshop’s RAW processor). This is just one advantage of shooting in RAW.

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