Understanding Kelvinon Oct 05 in Tips & Tricks by Meg
For those of you who were not able to come to Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts last night, Mike Duval, our ‘tech guru’, spoke about using Kelvin and the benefits of setting your white balance properly while shooting instead of ‘fixing’ it later on. I took some notes to share with all of you so you can be included as well!
Mike and wife Kate have been a team of photographers (MKD Photography) from the beginning.They started off shooting in aperture priority mode and auto white balance at all of their weddings. Doing this makes it quick, easy, and pretty hard to goof up when you shoot in RAW. Only problem was that they’d get home and it would take forever to retouch the images. They managed to shoot 8 weddings in this style, and with the available time for retouching it wasn’t ‘much’ of a problem. That was until Season 2 came around!
Season 2 promoted a problem…20 weddings and a baby to care for! If you’re a parent you know your time goes right out the window with a little one in your life (or at least that’s what I hear!…I haven’t gotten there yet!). At that point Mike was working full time, Kate was being a mom full time but the photography business needed THEM full time! What were they to do? Shoot less weddings?…No. They took off the ‘training wheels’ and made the transition to Manual Mode, started using only Kelvin White Balance, shot only in JPEG and completely ditched the ability to have extra information in RAW photos. The reward was pretty simple…they got to spend more time with their growing family.
Using the RGB histogram the switch over to Kelvin White Balance wasn’t as scary as it originally seemed. Also, an understanding of the Kelvin color temperature scale is useful. The two numbers you need to remember are 5600K or what is considered daylight and 3200K which is the color temperature of tungsten light. The scale below shows all of the different temperatures with matching numbers. The more orange the photo, the lesser the number, the more blue you introduce the higher the number becomes.
“So how do I sent my camera to Kelvin White Balance?”. On both Nikon and Canon the symbol for Kelvin is a K with a square around it. All models are a bit different so be sure to check your manuals if you aren’t sure how to change white balance. On most models you’ll end up holding down the ‘WB’ button on the camera and using one of the wheels to scroll through the options.
Ok, you’re set on Kelvin…now what?! First of all, don’t freak out. We are now going to set your camera so that you can see the RGB Histogram.
Canon: Go into the Menu > Scroll to the 2nd Playback Menu (blue section) > Select Histogram > Change to RGB
Nikon: Go into the Menu > Scroll to the Playback Menu (at top) > Select Display Mode > Check the box for RGB Histogram > Scroll up to Done > Click OK Button
An RGB Histogram will now appear when you take a photo and look at the info.
If you are using a flash you just need to know that a flash is balanced for daylight or 5600K. If you need a warmer tone you can just gel your flash to create a warmer feeling. Gels come in all different tones. If you are shooting in tungsten light and need to use a flash you can get a sheet of CTO (or Color Temperature Orange) and use it to create a balanced photo. If it is too warm you could try a 1/2 or 1/4 sheet of CTO. If you are looking for a ‘cooler’ photo you can use CTB (or Color Temperature Blue) and again use a full sheet, 1/2 or 1/4 sheet to create the look you are working towards!
So what are the benefits of shooting jpeg, using Kelvin white balance? You’re saving yourself time. Think about it. On average how much time do you take going through all of those wedding photos playing around with tonal colors? This is definitely something that you’ll need to get used to. Go out and play, switch to JPEG and don’t be scared of messing up!
If you have questions please feel free to email us! firstname.lastname@example.org