It’s a question that comes up often in my Lightroom & Photoshop classes – what’s the best way to white balance my images?
In the world of post-processing there are a number of answers to that question. Photoshop has Levels & Curves, Layers & Filters, you can click with eyedroppers or use the new On-Image-Adjustment Tool in CS4. Photographers using Lightroom have a more straightforward approach as white balance is the first adjustment in the Basic panel under the Develop module. However, beginners & advanced users alike must acknowledge the time it takes to white balance an image regardless of the steps you choose to take. As a production specialist, I’m always looking for ways to reduce the time spent on tasks. My students know that I preach “Actions, Presets, & Macros” because my time is valuable to me. It’s true, I can make Photoshop sing, and Lightroom seemingly bends to my will (I kid, I kid), but the smartest way to white balance your images is to do it right in camera.
Which brings us to Photojojo’s White Balance Lens Cap (WBLC for all the hip kids).
The WBLC was brought to my attention by Dawn over at My Sweet Home Online. She’s always finding useful items, good deals, and she wrote one of the first reviews on the WBLC. This handy device was built for the lazy photographer, and is perfect for the photo enthusiast. Since it’s a lens cap there’s nothing extra you have to remember to pack in your camera bag. The WBLC doesn’t require any additional hands from you, or photo prep help from your subject. Honestly, the toughest part in using it is learning how your camera does custom white balance, and in my case remembering to reset the auto-focus setting on my camera. (Read on to see how you can get a discount on the White Balance Lens Cap)
Here are some example test shots:
The above image was shot white balance set to Daylight. (I do like the warmth)
The above image was shot white balance set to Auto. (A little blue)
The above image was shot white balance set to Custom after calibrating with the WBLC.
As you can see the White Balance Lens Cap does a great job. I’ll refer you to your owner’s manual for camera specifics, but the basic steps are as follows:
1. Place the WBLC on the camera lens.
2. For my Canon 20D, I set the focus to manual, camera white balance to auto, ISO at 800, aperture priority at F4. (I set a high ISO to get a quicker shutter speed, although camera shake shouldn’t affect white balance).
3. I aim my camera in the direction of my subject, snap the shutter.
4. Go into the camera’s menu and point custom white balance to the WBLC image I just shot.
5. Exit the menu and set the camera to custom white balance mode. NOTE – reset camera focus to auto.
Here’s a quick video demonstration.
As you can see, the steps are quite simple, and setting your white balance in camera will only reduce the amount of time spent post processing. The folks at Photojojo have been kind enough to give me a discount code to pass on to you my loyal readers. Visit the Photojojo store tell them A.J. sent you, and use the code pjjstudent at checkout for a 10% discount.
UPDATE – I was informed today that the discount code is case sensitive. It should be typed “pjjstudent” all lower case. Thanks Mark.