Photography White Balance Technique

There will be times when you go out with a specific image in mind and as in England the weather will let you down.

  Making the most of cr4p natural light!

Ben & I went out with the intention of doing a test shot for a series of new images we're working on. We really wanted the warm light from the setting sun to provide a backdrop for the shot of Kim on the beach. And as is the norm here, the cloud came over and obscured the sun giving us boring, flat grey sky with no clouds for interest.

The main light was to be be an Elinchrom Quadra Ranger RX modified with a Rotalux 70 cm Deep Octa. I could have gone with any number of lighting designs here but opted for warmth in the sky with direction from the Octa. As I did not have my Rosco CalColor gels with me I used a Rosco product called #3072 or 1/2 Blue Grid Cloth.

My thanks to Ben Potter for this BTS  frame showing the lighting

This is a fabric or textile similar to the rip stop nylon used to make sails or parachutes. Rosco Labs have created an accurately colour corrected textile to raise the colour temperature of your lights. #3072 or 1/2 Blue Silent Grid Cloth is used primarily in the film and theatre industries for modifying light sources over a large area in studios or stages. I have found it very useful when using soft boxes or similar light modifiers with stills photography.

The technique used here I mention in my blog back in January 2011 and have to thank American photographer Rolando Gomez for the inspiration. Once mastered, this white balance technique which I have dubbed "Cross Balancing" is pure workflow.

First of all you need to decide the colour you want to change to sky and ambient light. Then look at a colour wheel and choose the colour opposite the final choosen colour, this is the complimentary colour. This colour wheel has been extracted from the Rosco booklet Filter Facts which I strongly recommend you download and keep for future reference. If you light (i.e. are a serious stills or video photographer) sooner or later you will need to refer to it.

9 Steps for Cross Balancing workflow:
  1. Decide on backgound colour.
  2. Select CalColor gel.
  3. Correct and modify light source.
  4. Take white balance reference where model/subject will be.
  5. Preferably set custom white balance in camera so you can preview what's happening.
  6. Get your shots.
  7. Post-production white balance. Remember to shoot RAW as any in camera custom white balance will only affect the JPEG/preview file.
  8. Adjust image.
  9. Print or publish image(s).
 White balance is essential with this technique.

The uncorrected image, a bit cool for my liking . . .

The final image white balanced in post-production/processing.

Here is the finished image. The skin tones look more natural and the shadows have picked up the false colour of the ambient fill light.

Another lighting idea to try soon.



All the products mentioned here are available from The Flash Centre. Contact Simon Burfoot by email to place your order


Popular Posts