Okay, ……………..Let’s talk
In my opinion, White Balance is The most important thing you Must do when shooting Infrared.
I constantly interact with Infrared Digital Artists that are having challenges with their Infrared photography and 99% of the time the issue is White Balance.
I take a simple approach to White Balance and generally use foliage, grass or trees, as a reference image, or concrete or stone if the majority of my image is made up of that. This approach has worked well for me. Recently, I’ve been hearing people say that you can use a piece of Green paper in place of Green grass, or Blue/Cyan Paper to get a Blue Sky.
I just came back from testing this idea. On my way to the location I had in mind I spared no expense and stopped at that store where everything is a buck. They had a pack of colored construction paper, and those soft cookies I like, so I got both.
Here’s the paper,
I’m using my Super Color converted Canon 7DMKII for these, with my Tamron SP AF 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 Di II Ultra wide lens
So, first let’s start with the Green
I set the Green paper out, filled the image area with the paper, and shot 3 exposures
I selected 1/60sec and set the Custom White Balance.
Then I made this image
Umm,…… yeah, .. I don’t think so.
With a Red/Blue color channel swap I got this.
Okay, maybe the Cyan will work
Here’s the Cyan 3 exposures
……This looks familiar
Let’s try the image again.
Whoa,……….. Déjà vu
I then tried the Red,…… yeah, same thing.
Why did this happen?
Because ……………. it’s just a piece of paper.
In Infrared, the camera cannot tell the difference.
However, if we shoot the foliage
We can capture this .
Which can make this
So, I think I can safely say that putting colored paper in your camera bag for a White Balance will NOT help you get better images.
But I do have another idea.
Remember that bag of cookies I got?
Well, it turns out they work about as well as the colored paper.
So, put them in your camera bag instead, and do a White Balance the right way.
Now, I gotta go, …. I really need a glass of milk.
Thank you for this article. very informative. I got a supercolor conversion with you guys and absolutely love it. Too bad it was last December when I had it done, there was no foliage to speak of, or other evergreens to take decent pictures, and I missed my 30-day free consultation because I had no pictures to bring to the session, I literally got my first usable picture a day after the grace period ended. Major bummer, because WB was a topic I was really interested in learning more about.
When the snow finally came off and evergreens were exposed enough to shoot, I still could not get the WB right. I use evergreens or grass as my custom WB photo on my EOS 20D, but my skies are still too much on the tobacco side, so after a channel swap they turn out to be garishly blue, exactly as you showed in the pictures above. I use Luminar and not LR or PSD, so building a custom color profile in the profile editor (as countless YT videos show) is out of question for me.
I use Canon DPP 4 to do WB correction with the eye dropper, as one of your videos showed, which gives perfect WB, resulting in perfect blue skies and yellow foliage as one would expect. Here is one major problem. Canon DPP4 creates only recipes and actually does not save the new WB settings into the RAW file, so even though you see the changes applied while viewing the photo in DPP4 the only way to get the WB-corrected file out of it into another program is exporting into a TIFF or JPEG, thus losing the benefits of RAW. Just saving the RAW with all the changes will not actually correct the WB in the RAW file, so when opened in Luminar or ON1, or Preview on my Mac it still looks awfully red.
Is there really no way to correct WB on RAW images in DPP4 and actually save that new WB setting in the RAW files, so I can take it into Luminar, ON1 or any other non-Adobe tool? As a hobbyist, I have zero interest in paying $10/mo for Lr + PSD creative suite. I simply cannot justify that expense.
What are the ret of you guys doing?
Noah Ashurov says
Why don’t you shoot me over an email (email@example.com), we would love for you to be able to take advantage of the training session!
Noah and Dan, thank you both for the follow up and for extending the grace period of free 1:1 training for me. Did not expect that. Nice touch!
Immediately registered for it and looking forward to talking to you soon.
Louis-Albert Ducharme says
I had my Nikon 3 converted to 720nm. Effectively impossible to a white balance in camera with the Sekonic target II. When I download to LR, I use High contrast B and W with absolutely no white balance whith pretty good results with human in nature and studio).
But when summer come back I will to do a custom white balance with green foliage. And will try this winter with a pure white snow.
I will appreciate your opinion about that. Thank
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Barney Koszalka says
I’ll echo the comments above about a wonder blog post! Most of my issues in post can indeed be traced back to improper WB. I had LP convert two cameras over the past couple of years, a Nikon D200 with a 720nm filter, and, a D800 with an 830nm filter. The WB for the D200 gets set off of green foliage but I’ve had less success with the D800 and have sometimes used a gray card. For the 830nm filter should the WB also be set off of green foliage?
Dan Wampler says
Barney, I would suggest trying foliage for a WB, but ultimately go with what gives You the best results.
Hi Dan. Great article. Why did you choose the 1/60th WB test over the other ones? Thanks
Dan Wampler says
Great question Cindy!
In this case I liked the exposure and the fact that it had the least amount of red and yellow in it. I have had instances where I selected an image, set the WB and then found I didn’t like the choice, and then had to go back and select another one. That’s why I always do a 3 exposure burst.
Frank Loose says
The first camera I had converted was a Lumix and LifePixel converted it to 580nm. I would white balance on a white card and it worked great. You’re doing your 580 with green foliage and having success. I’m wondering why both work as it seems there would be a difference. My next conversion was a D300 to 720nm, and I would WB on grass or other green foliage. It worked great. But, I could not get the D300 to white balance with a card. Have you ever used a white card and what were your results compared to green foliage?
Dan Wampler says
I have shot with several different Life Pixel converted cameras over the past ten years and found I get my best results doing a custom white balance using foliage in the area where I am or a hard surface (stone, concrete, rock) if I am in an area without foliage. I have tried a grey card, white and black cards, but never gotten as good results. Everything we put in our Blogs is meant as a guideline. I know that if an Infrared digital artist performs a Custom White Balance prior to shooting they will get better results. With that said; if you are getting your best results by using a white card with your camera, by all means continue to do that. The end product is what matters.
I alway enjoy jour posts, but I am having issues with something else. I recently had my Nikon D300s converted to 720nm. My issue is with how to use live view. Should I manual focus in live view or autofocus? I am asking because getting the autofocus to “lock in” either takes forever or just doesn’t manage to focus.
I would grateful for any wisdom you mat be able to impart.
Dan Wampler says
Ben, I have not shot with a Nikon D300s, but as I understand it you will get the best results in Live View by either using manual focus, or setting the auto focus to “tripod mode” rather than “handheld mode”. I hope this helps.
Thanks Dan, I will try manual focus and see how I get along.
Thanks so much for this article, I had been struggling with some aspects of post processing but reading this makes me think that I need to go back and make sure I set the wb everytime I shoot and that could solve some, if not many, problems.
Mike Cunningham says
Great article Dan… I have always had the best luck with using green grass or foliage too. I feel sorry for those whose camera won’t accept a custom white balance. Something they might want to check by asking questions on some of the different IR sites, before having a camera converted to IR.
Some times its the basics we need to get right!
I will use this as my method for setting white balbance.
Needless to say it was the ‘something wrong’ I could never resolve…thanks!
jackie bentz says
Thanks for the great info Dan. I always learn a lot from your teachings.