White Balance is that big a deal, right????
I constantly interact with IR artists unhappy with the results they get from their IR cameras.
My first question is “Do you do a Custom White Balance?”
The responses often range from ” NO” to “It’s not that important” or “it takes too long”
It IS important, in fact I personally believe that a custom White Balance with Infrared photography is as important as taking off the lens cap.
This week, I made an Infrared portrait of a young attractive woman by the name of Sarah.
She wanted images in Infrared at the artistic Graffiti Wall in St Louis, MO.
As I began the session, I stopped and performed my usual custom white balance.
I started off shooting a bracket of 3 images of grass growing nearby.
I was not thrilled with the color tones, but set the Custom White Balance and then did a test shot. I wasn’t surprised when the test image came out muddy looking, with not much contrast.
In the location I was working I had picked the wrong choice for a White Balance reference image, so I shot the concrete right below my feet, again a bracket of 3 images.
I decided on the the lightest one, then set the WB again. The result was way better.
As I did this, I told Sarah what I was doing and she said “Is it that big a deal?”
Since I had two IR cameras with me I decided to shoot the session with a White Balanced camera and at the same time with an IR camera that has not had a custom White Balance, but rather is left on Auto White Balance.
So, the shoot began.
First the White Balanced camera.
From this I was able to create this
This is what I could create from this.
The difference? One minutes time to do a proper White Balance.
Let’s keep going
Let’s see one side by side. Oh, and I wasn’t using a tripod, so they are slightly different, but you will be able to tell which one is White Balanced.
This is what was made from the left one. I didn’t bother with the right image.
How about this?
The same exposure, shutter speed, f-stop, and lens.
Once again, this is from the White Balanced image.
One final set.
The left has separation between the skin and the background. The right is just flat.
The White balanced image gives me this.
The unbalanced image is not worth bothering to process.
The more you get in the habit of White Balancing your camera, the quicker you will get at it and I promise you that you will see a difference.
I spent two hours shooting; one minute made it worth it.
My thanks to Sarah for allowing me use her images for this Blog.