November 11, 2018
This weekend I had a chance to shoot senior portraits and I ran into a situation that I’m sure at least a few of you have faced – running with a pre-set white balance from a previous location that messes up all of your current photos. You might be thinking, “Didn’t you preview your images?” Well, actually, I was chimping like a fool but for some reason I was worried that my LCD screen was fritzing out on my D700. Plausible…it’s an older camera. Coulda happened.
Anyways, it was no big deal – I was shooting in RAW and using a grey card. Fixing my off-blue images was as simple as importing into Lightroom, switching to develop mode, and sipping on the grey card with the white balance sample tool.
White balance sample tool to the rescue!
But what if you weren’t using a grey card and your image didn’t have a neutral grey area to click on?
I ran into this problem recently while photographing a high school girls volleyball playoffs match. Gym lighting is the bane of any indoor prep sports photographer’s existence, but this gym was actually one of the best lit facilities I’d ever encountered. At one point, however, a shaft of light angled in from somewhere in the ceiling and played havoc with my shots. I was pretty happy with one of the shots from the sunlit series, but I couldn’t figure out the white balance for the life of me. White balance wasn’t the only problem with the photo. The highlights were crazy, too. But unless I could fix the white balance the rest of the adjustments were moot.
Finally, after a little research, I found the clue I needed on the Stack Exchange Photography forum. The final comment mentioned using a shaded portion of a white surface. One of the teams was wearing Tide White jerseys and after sampling a couple shaded areas I found a color tint that I was happy with.
If you’d like to see the final image, have a look in the “Sports Action” gallery in the “Works” section of this website – it’s the photo with the player in blue jousting at the net with two girls wearing white (with a little grey here and there).