ExpoDisc – The White Balance Solution

To anyone new to the Digital Photography world, you will learn more about the advanced features & functions of your DSLR Camera. One of the biggest challenges in making your photo’s look right is getting the White Balance and exposure set correctly. White Balance is basically the light conditions you are taking your photo’s. In your camera you set the white balance by selecting one of the presets; flash, daylight, cloudy, florescent, night, or some other option. When you set the white balance you are setting the coolness or warmth of the available light for your photo. Digital Sensor’s in the camera need to have this set correctly to recreate what naturally occurs with film camera’s.

Trying to get the white balance correct can be quite a challenge. If you have ever taken a photo and noticed that the color is of such as a green, orange or blue tint, then you know you didn’t have the white balance set correctly. If this occur’s your photo’s won’t look like it did to the human eye. Manufacture’s realized this so they provided preset’s to choose from. If you select the correct preset then you will get pretty close to what the human eye see’s. Typically you will get within 5-15% of the actual lighting conditions. The reason you can’t get any closer, is because Daylight is different through a 12 hour day or between sunrise, late morning, high noon, afternoon and sunset. Depending on how close or far from the equator all effect the white balance. However if you use the automatic setting built into every Digital Camera, it might be off by as much as 50% off. Sometimes Automatic is nice, but the quality of your shots could be suspect. I have had many nice shot’s that looked terrible because of the incorrect white balance. Fortunately, I take all my photo’s in RAW format, so I can fix them later.

If you shoot photo’s in RAW format, you can use post production software such as Aperature, Lightroom, Photoshop or many other software products to correct the white balance after you upload them to your computer. If however you shoot your photo’s in JPEG format, then you are kind are out of luck, you can do some fixing of white balance and exposure, but you will start to have other issues with clarity, sharpness, noise in the photo (speckles) and many other artifacts. So it is very important to have your white balance correct.

So how do figure out how to get your white balance correct? Well there are many different way’s

  1. Use a 18% Gray Card, this will get you within 1-3% of the correct Exposure. I have used these grey card’s and they work very well. You can get a Grey Card between $20-60 at online photography stores or even amazon.com
  2. Use a light meter, this is expensive, but is the most accurate way to set your exposure and white balance. Light meter’s can cost between $400 and $1,800 for good one’s. These aren’t in my budget, “yet”!
  3. Use a White Balance disc that actually allows you to point your camera at a light source and sample and set the white balance.

I found out about the White balance Disc when I was watching a Video Blog on Photography hosted by Scott Kelby – D-Town TV, he demonstrated the expodisc from expo imaging. With the expodisc you are able to check and set white balance with a Neutral White Balance expodisc that measures the light source and get it set in about 10 seconds on your DSLR Camera. Then you start taking photo’s with the correct white balance. If your lighting condions change (clouds come in and obstruct the sun, or you turn on a different light in the room you are taking photo’s) then you can reset the white balance using the expodisc and continue shooting. If you clouds move and you are in the open sun, reset the White Balance and continue shooting. This way you ensure you get the correct white balance continue taking great photo’s.

I used mine today for the first time, was very easy to set, if you are familiar with setting a custom white balance (you can check your camera manual to learn how to do this, it is different on different by each manufacture. You can see the photo’s I took at the top of the page of my two dog’s after setting the white balance. In the future, I’ll include in my tip’s section the difference when setting the white balance, using the different methods listed above and compare the results.