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Mark Peters : May 19th 2005 - 13:45 CET

Correct white balance makes better photos says PMA


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PMACorrect white balance makes better photos, says PMA : When trying to match neutral white under different kinds of light, the human eye does not accurately perceive colors. Psychologically, the brain adjusts colors so that they seem to be correct under any light source. That is the reason shoppers often take a fabric out of a showroom in order to look at it under natural daylight. The problem is that different light sources themselves produce different colors, and human vision attempts to adjust for the difference. The most extreme situation found by digital photographers is the difference between bright sunlight outdoors and artificial light bulbs indoors. The relative light-source colors run from cool to warm.
Correct white balance makes better photos says PMAWhite balance solves the problem
According to Alfred DeBat, senior editor of Prints-are-Memories.com, the photo information website from PMA (Photo Marketing Association International). "There is no way for a digital camera to produce accurate colors in subjects, if the color of the source light is not taken into account. Setting the 'white-balance' adjustment on a digital camera for different lighting situations before taking photographs solves this problem."

Measuring lighting colors
Professional photographers measure this difference in lighting color using the Kelvin (K.) scale, whereby warm studio floodlights are 3,200 K., sunny daylight at noon and electronic flash are 5,500 K., and cool blue daylight from a northern sky is 8,000 K.

White balance - Digital camera settings
Digital camera menus offer users a list of white-balance settings for lighting conditions that best match the illumination of a scene. DeBat points out these settings are usually:
Auto : Allows the camera sensor to determine the white balance automatically on its own.
Daylight : Selects the sunny daylight at noon color setting.
Tungsten : Adjusts the white balance as a general setting for the color of indoor light bulbs.
Fluorescent : Attempts to adjust for hard-to-match fluorescent bulbs.
Cloudy : Provides for a cooler daylight setting found under cloudy skies.
Shade : Adjusts for an even cooler, bluer lighting situation.
Custom or Manual : Can produce the most accurate white balance

Custom white balance settings
Some camera models even allow users to save several different Custom white-balance settings. Here's what you have to do: Carry a small white card with you when you want to use the Manual setting. Snap a photo of the card in the "difficult" lighting situation. Next, save the setting as your Manual or Custom option and the camera will adjust to that neutral hue. (All of this information should be in your camera manual.)

Electronic flash and bright daylight
DeBat notes that electronic flash and bright daylight are the same color. Flash units are engineered that way, so there is no color difference. You can take flash shots in sunlight, which is a good way to remove heavy shadows from faces under hat brims. When you take flash shots indoors, you'll see the orange glow from tungsten light bulbs in the picture, because the camera automatically switches to the daylight/flash white-balance setting.





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