Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The beauty of the WhiBal

I recently purchased a WhiBal white balance card to add to my photography tools. It's really great! If you clicked on the link, you saw the videos of why it's so great. But since I'm not good at explaining the science of it all, let me just show you.

Here is a picture of my tree:
Obviously, you can tell it's not the right color. I mean, the Christmas lights make a certain color, but in general, it's got that yellow tone that comes with taking indoor photography with no flash. So...enter the WhiBal! The WhiBal is a neutral gray, lighter than the normal 18% gray card used for exposure. Because it's neutral (no red, yellow, etc. undertones), any color coming from it in a photo will tell you the color that is coming from the lighting.

Again, I'm not good at 'splaining. But here's what you do. You take a photo in the same place as before, only this time include the WhiBal:
Now, open the two images in Photoshop. This is where the magic happens! If you've taken the pictures in RAW format, it will open the RAW converter, where you can make all kinds of adjustments. Then, you show Photoshop what color casts are in your photo by selecting a spot on the WhiBal. It takes that information and removes the color cast of all selected photos.

Now for a little final tweaking, and you've got a nice photo!
Sometimes I look at it and think, "But I like the first photo better!" Well, in that case, you leave it the way it was. There's no rule saying you can't! And in this instance, it's kind of nice to have the warm tones of the first photo. However, this is a big timesaver when it comes to portraits, because no one likes yellow undertones in their skin tone.


  1. wow, what a difference!

    You gave a good explanation and the photos to go along with it helped me understand the process. The tree picture was nice, but when I saw the difference with Holly's picture...omg it's terrific!

    You are learning fast, my dear! But, then, I always knew you could do anything you set your mind to. :)

  2. Wow, that is pretty crazy. After seeing the finished Christmas tree pic, I liked the warm holiday feel of the first. But like you and your mom said, there is quite a difference on a HUMAN, (and probably Mr. Friday too!)

  3. Yes, of course, Friday would certainly object to having his fur appear yellowish and dingy in his portraits!

    That's a nifty tool!

  4. It will make you appreciate so many things more when you understand while balance. Film, video & photography. They all use this element. Very important!

  5. Very cool! So the camera picture doesn't adjust, but it makes it easier to adjust on the computer? Is that right?

  6. Wayne wanted me to ask if you would consider teaching the photo track in YCAM in the Spring..??? E-mail him at to discuss.....GREAT photos - love the new tool.

  7. @Teresa: Right. Actually, if I knew I would only be taking photos in one light, I could adjust the white balance on my camera before taking the shots. However, that means remembering to readjust it later, and if I moved to another spot (or the sun came out), I'd have to throw away all those adjustments.

    @Amy: Wow! I'll have to think about that. I'll shoot him an e-mail and get more info. Thanks!

  8. Wow! That's a great tool. You did a great job 'splaining, too!