Q&A – How To Set Your White Balance?
I received this email from a reader with questions about consistency in color and style, and I think it’s interesting to share it here on my blog:
Amazing body of work. I’m a big fan, trying to get started myself. When you shoot a story outdoor, how do you typically set your white balance? Do you just set it to auto, or do you do a set temperature? Specially, when you’re shooting in varying conditions, for example some part of the day maybe really sunny and later becomes cloudy. As well as varying locations, where you might need to shoot in open harsh light, and then go to a wooded area where the light is blocked by the trees. How do maintain consistent color, so you still look like your shooting for the same shoot. Also on exteremly contrasty sunny day, do you expose for highlight or shadow? I would really appreciate some pointers.– C.
Thanks for your email! I can imagine it’s confusing but actually it’s not super difficult to make sure your colors are consistent in all your shots. Do you already shoot in RAW instead of JPG, then you can always decide later what white balance is the best for all your images when they are shot in different circumstances. I always use the white balance option “K” somewhere between the 5000 and 6000K, but of course this depends on the situation. I always prefer choose the best white balance myself instead of the Auto WB option. Only on my travel camera I use the Auto WB option because it’s more easy, and I always shoot in RAW, so I can change the colors later in Lightroom or Photoshop.
Especially during long shoot days, or shoots that take 2-3 days, you always have different light situations like you mention in your email. I stay close to my photography style to make sure all images are the same mood, but also the editing is important to create a consistent story. That is why I always use 1 or 2 presets in a story, then I know all my images have the same look. I have my own preset store, in case you want to try them out.
To answer your latest questions about the highlights and shadows, I always make sure that my photo is not (too) over-exposed. And again: if you shoot in RAW, it’s easy to lighten the shadows, but it’s not possible to darken the over exposed highlights. So don’t over-expose your images and you’re safe when you are editing your images afterwards!
Try to learn how the white balance is working, set it to 4000K and check your photo, and then set it to 5000K and 6000K to see the difference. You will learn to see what white balance is the best for every kind of light situation. And don’t worry if your image is a little bit to cold or warm, you can always change this afterwards thanks to the RAW images!
Below I will show you my editorial I created in Ibiza with the Fujifilm XT-3. This time I liked the darker analog vibe for this beach shoot, have a look!
photography: Liselotte Fleur
model: Gigi Hollanders