Finding the Moments That Define Your Event

Custom White Balance


I've never used custom white balance. Ever.

I almost always set my camera to Auto WB and use a gray card to meter off of.  I usually shoot RAW files so tweaking the white balance in post always seemed easier than dealing with custom settings.

But I'm heading to DC on Saturday to shoot for 4 days at the AIPAC Policy Conference.  It's my 5th year (I think? Maybe it's my 6th year?) and it being an election year means it's going to be a crazy, busy, wild, event to photograph.  One of the stipulations of shooting for this event is that the photographers have to shoot in JPG which means that Auto WB isn't going to cut it.

In years past I haven't worried too much about getting the white balance exact in camera but this year I decided to make it one of my goals.  To that end I've been playing around with my new white balance card from WhiBal and the custom settings on my Nikon D3s.  Examples below of the difference.  All three of these photos had the same post-production tweaks (exposure, sharpen, contrast, etc) made to them save for the white balance. I didn't expect to see this big of a difference using a custom WB setting and all I can think is that I'd like to apologize to the post production folks (Jason!) at AIPAC who had to deal with my wonky color these past 5 years.  Oy.


#1: Shot on Auto WB.  The ambient light reads pretty orange/yellow.




















#2: Shot on Auto WB but chose 'Auto' correction in Lightroom to change WB to what Lightroom thinks is the correct WB.  It's a little bit better than #1 but the ambient is still reading orange/yellow.




















#3: Shot on Custom WB using the WhiBal card. Honestly, I feel like this is a little cool for my taste but it's a vast improvement over the previous 2 and would only need a minor tweak in post production to warm it up.