How To White Balance Shots: Part 1

October 18, 2016
Patrick Inhofer C.S.I.

Watch how to White Balance (or Color Balance) digital video images. You'll explore 4 different tools and learn their differences.

Part 1: Using Color Wheels, Offset, Curves and Auto-Balance

What is White Balance?

White Balance (often called Color Balance) is an adjustment to images assuring the colors are rendered accurately. Color rendition gets skewed when the camera mismatches the color temperature of the primary illuminant in the scene. This gives the recorded images an overall ‘tint’ or ‘color wash’. For instance, setting the camera for daylight but shooting under tungsten results in a heavy color wash that skews all the colors. If the Balance is way off, the image looks almost monochromatic.

The Color Balance adjustment is one of the first two moves you’ll make when color correcting images

Typically, you’ll first set the overall contrast for image then you’ll tweak your Color Balance. But on extremely unbalanced images, you may need to fix the White Balance first. Then, you can make informed contrast adjustments.

In digital color correction, you’ll usually adjust the Red, Green and Blue channels to remove the overall ‘color wash’ and ‘normalize’ the image. The concept is simple: Neutral colors (grays, shadows and (sometimes) highlights) should have no apparent tinting. If you can adjust the Color Balance to remove tints from grays and shadows then the rest of the image will line up. It’ll loos as if the image had been recorded with the proper White Balance in the first place.

In this Insight, learn how to use four common digital color correction tools to manipulate White Balance

More importantly, see how there are different types of Color Balance problems. And depending on the nature of the problem you’re solving, learn which tool will have the best effect (they are all different). This Insight will also cover some basic concepts about using a RGB Parade and Vectorscope for diagnosing and correcting White Balance issues.



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  • Ah…I have a pretty silly question. The ‘show picker RGB value; I have never really used that. When I click on on it nothing really happens. Is this something to do with the fact that your cursor is a circle and mine is an arrow or is it something totally unrelated?

    • Patrick Inhofer

      I artifically change my pointer in my Screen Capture software since I think it’s easier to see than a tiny mouse pointer.

      In your case, after enabling the ‘show RGB value’ you need to make sure you’ve enabled the ‘Qualifier’ pulldown at the bottom of the Viewer. Only with the Qualifier selected will see you the RGB readouts.