White Balance

White balancing is balancing the way your ccd or cmos chip interprets the “color“ of the light you’re using. Therefore , this should be a step you add to your pre-shoot set-up , EVERY time you shoot . We know that the color characteristics of light are measured in Kelvin units (sometimes called degrees).

Average daylight falling somewhere between 5000K and 5500K . Your camera comes pre-loaded with a number of “white balance” settings . These are to help you match the light source you are using . As cameras are being up-graded manufacturers are adding more and more “white” settings to their software . To obtain the best possible image quality , it is essential that you use your white balance settings correctly.

Auto White Balance or "A"

While the “A” white balance setting will give you good results in many different situations , you should understand that it CAN be fooled in some situations. If you photograph in a variety of locations you will want to test the “A” and your other settings thoroughly . This is even more important for those of us who do mostly studio work . If you use the A setting in the studio with strobe , you are balancing your color to your modeling lights. Your strobes may or may not be the same color (in MOST cases NOT !) this WILL make a difference in your image quality . Again , TEST and Re-TEST your settings BEFORE you shoot a large job!!!!

Custom White Balance

Some cameras come with the ability to create your own white balance. We recommend doing this for each different lighting set-up that you use. Your camera’s instruction manual will tell you what values for white and black, and sometimes average grey , that use should be using . i.e. white is usually set somewhere between 245 and 255. Again, the manufacturers setting are guides ,change them if you aren’t happy with your results but TEST your settings. When you do your white balance use a “standard” target. We recommend a Kodak grey card or Macbeth color checker . Which ever target you use, when you balance , fill your frame with that target. Be careful NOT to throw a shadow over your target while photographing. Make sure your target is in the SAME place your subjects will be . We recommend using the grey card to balance and then shoot one frame with your first subject holding the Macbeth color checker. This will give your lab a good reference to use when color correcting your jobs. If you change your lighting set-up then you should do a new white balance AND give us a new color reference.


As with all photography , exposure is key to getting good results . If you have been using negative film for your photography , say goodbye to the wonderful exposure latitude you’ve enjoyed. Digital requires precise exposure. It responds very much like transparency or slide films. This is especially true in the highlight areas. Washed out highlights CANNOT be put back. Digital images do not tolerate over-exposure very well. Under-exposure up to a half stop is correctable , USUALLY. This means if you aren’t using an exposure meter to set your lights , you SHOULD be. You want repeatable uniform results , this will help you obtain those. If you ARE using an exposure meter , time to re-test its accuracy. Many meters are off quite a lot , but because of the latitude of negative film , your results have been good. That will NOT be the case with digital equipment.