Is it always right to rely on the white balance of the camera?

07 Jan

Is it always right to rely on the white balance of the camera?

Today with the increasingly advanced technology, it is increasingly possible to rely on the automatic tuners of cameras and the ability of cameras to learn true white balance, light intensities and shutter speed. This is even truer in the latest and most professional models of companies. But most of us do not have the newest and most professional models, and there are quite a few situations where the camera's processor is wrong, and misses the light intensity or the ability to measure the correct white balance

The place where you can see the most mistakes of the camera's processor is in photography in harsh lighting conditions (and I will discuss this in the article below). In this article I will focus on the capabilities of most bodies, and the processor's difficulties in understanding the correct white balance. In some cases, even when the correct white balance was indeed detected by the processor of the camera body, it is best to change it alone to another temperature.

*** It is important to clarify that perhaps because the screen of some of the readers is not calibrated, you will see different shades of the real shades in the photographs in the article. I attach a link to an article about calibrating the screen, in part to explain the difficulty in seeing the correct colors in this article - screen calibration and its importance

Let's begin with the small problems that the processor generates in the reading of the white balance: As long as the sun is in the center of the sky and the intensity of light is the same, it is easy for the modern processor to find the right temperature. But if I see the same picture while there are clouds in the sky, there is a chance that the processor will not correctly measure the correct temperature. In the case of clouds in the sky, the change can be really small, in which case the shade of the photograph can be at a cooler temperature. This is the place to intervene and change the temperature manually, in order to reach the right shade. How do I know I chose the right shade? The answer is very simple, because I know the true color of this flower.

In the blue image we can see the color temperature chosen by the processor, and you can see that the leaves have also become blue in this image. The warmer picture is after a very slight correction I made, in order to reach the right shades


In dark conditions, most cameras produce or choose a higher temperature and warmer than the required temperature, and this is especially noticeable in celestial photography or in city shots at night. The shades of street lamps and lamps along the road make the processor think that high temperature is the right choice. But it is not. In almost all cases it is necessary to lower the temperature manually, in order to get the correct shades. In the case of the two photographs below, which were taken at the Milky Way photography workshop and star paths, the automatic mechanism created a warm, orange color, which happened partly because the fire had confused the camera's processor. The processor tried to maintain the right shade of the fire, But it comes at the expense of the color of the night sky, which no longer blacks anymore. The sky turned orange, while the sky was black as we all know. In this case, lowering the temperature is necessary.


There are times when the colors are so extreme that the processor is so confused that it completely loses the ability to understand the correct temperature until the distance between the right shade and the one received by the processor is a real difference between day and night. Underwater aquarium in Eilat, one of the aquariums has a special fluorescent light, which produces a specific blue shade that allows you to see the unique colors of the creatures in the aquarium, our brain's ability to understand the correct temperature and we can see the real colors. Of the camera does not understand what is happening here, and he is wrong in a big way, Because of the extreme lighting. I think this time it will be clear to you what image the camera's processor has created, and what is the correct temperature. As you see a correction of the temperature brings out the right white balance.


There are times when the camera processor correctly measures the temperature, but I prefer to change the temperature in the camera manually. This time the correction is not about correcting the camera's mistake, but because of the personal taste of how you want the image to look. In the following pictures, note that the camera's CPU is almost completely in temperature, but because it was a cold morning in the winter, it was important for me to choose a low temperature manually, in order to sharpen and emphasize the cold. Of course this is also a matter of artistic choice and personal taste, and everyone would choose something else.


In the end, the most advanced processors, of the latest models of cameras, are not really able to snipe exactly at the exact white balance. That's why every photographer should hold a gray card pocket. Gray card is very precise gray and specific, and allows to correct and achieve the full accuracy of the hue in reality. It is used by professional photo editing software such as Leitrom (I teach private lessons in Litrom to anyone looking for in-depth instruction on the subject) and is the only way to achieve accurate white balance. In the pictures below we can see the correction done by sampling a gray card. This is done by pressing a button.  I personally do not use a gray card all the time, and in many cases I prefer to manually set the temperature I want, because I want to change as I like the real colors that actually exist.


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