White Balance

So, I was really uninspired when I took the photos for my Self-Portrait project for last week. I thought that it would be interesting to take a photo of me cooking (again) in the kitchen. The difference would be that I would be doing the prep-work instead of standing in front of the stove/pan.

For this, I set up the kitchen bench with my wide angle lens with the warming filter (helps skin tone and overall quality). What I had been frustrated in previous photos using the filter was that I never thought it was warm enough. So I decided to take a few photos to adjust the white balance for the photo, as to let some of the warmth come through. The default setting for me is Auto2 (which stands for “Auto with enhanced warm highlights” – which my Nikon provides). I assumed that would allow for my photos to have a tinge of warmth in them.

When I took the first photo, I was immediately unhappy and had to adjust it. I unfortunately deleted the first photo from the memory card, but decided to proceed with testing the different white balances. My second “attempt” (actually photographing to blog about it), I said to white balance to incandescent light. Incandescent lights are generally very warm, so to produce a “white white”, it needs to cool down on the white balance. The photo below shows the result.

Kitchen white balanced for incandescent light

This was far from the result I wanted (again, done on purpose). When using filters like Hoya 81 (a and b) – which are warming filters – , you are generally trying to correct the light blue tones that shade or indirect light can produce. So, to bring out the effect desired, I decided to use the setting responsible for doing those corrections: shade and cloudy days. The photo below corrects the whites as if I were taking a photo in the shade.

Kitchen with Shade white balance

And the photo below (and all subsequent photos in the session for Week 38 of the Self-Portrait project) were taken with the cloudy day white balance setting. In the photos that I’m actually in then, there is also the added complexity of using an external flash (which ended up casting a magenta tinge to the photo).

Kitchen with Cloudy Day white balance

The last two results give a warm feeling to the photo (and please don’t mind my chef knife, it was meant to be a prop/my actual prepping tool), but even those two photos had too much yellow in them. I was using my Tiffen Warming filter on all three photos. For my future photos, I will experiment more, switching between Flash, Auto2 and Cloudy Day before selecting which white balance gives the desired atmosphere to the photo.

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