Week 2: White Balance

Other than the actual assignment, my first challenge this week was actually getting to know the camera. I learned that I knew just about nothing about taking pictures. I had a mini learning session with Rebecca who gave me an overview about F-Stops, Aperture, and ISO settings. It took me some time to understand how to use them and I ended up taking a lot of pictures before even getting to the White Balance assignment.

Below are the first photos I took. The one of the left is with Tungsten White Balance and the one on the right is AWB. I then realized that every picture I have ever taken at ITP has been wrong–I thought the floor was really that orange.

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Auto White Balance


Experimenting with White Balance

Auto White balance


Custom white balance: using brown as the “white”.

I wanted to experiment with using custom white balance to help understand what really happens. I adjusted the white balance by using this brown piece of cardboard.


When I used custom white balance, the picture turned out very blue.


I did the same with purple. Below I took a picture of something purple and then used that to adjust the white balance.


Then I took a picture with the custom white balance, which showed the image as green.


AWB vs Custom White Balance

I decided to take some photos of this flower I found on the floor. Since I don’t know much about cameras I did some research about aperture, F-Stops, and ISO. The floor was pretty dark, so I put the ISO=1600, aperture= 1/80, and F3.5.

F/8 (very dark)


F/5.6 (dark)


Auto White Balance:


Custom White balance:



To make sure I was really understanding, I decided to take some other photos that had more going on in the photo.


After getting more comfortable with setting custom white balance, I took the photos below. The one of the left is with AWB and the right is Custom. I noticed that with Custom WB there seem to be more blues in the photo, whereas the AWB has more yellows and oranges. I think I have gravitated toward the picture on the left because it’s brighter, which makes sense now knowing more about color temperature. However, I know now that I can achieve that in manual settings by using the right FStop and Aperture. What’s also interesting about these photos is comparing the white background. It makes it much easier to see that the right (custom) picture is more accurate, as the one on the left (AWB) looks more yellow.

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Auto White Balance



Custom White Balance



Auto White Balance


Custom White Balance


I took the picture below with F10, 1/1000, and 3200 ISO. It took me about 40 tries to get the exposure right. By changing the ISO to 1600 the histogram changed dramatically–the image appeared darker. By changing the camera settings the images looked either too bright, sometimes even all white, or very dark. For example with F10, 1/3200, and 1600 ISO, the curtains in the photo are very dark with a vast contrast to the blue outside. All in all I found this to be difficult because it was very bright outside. I am curious to learn the best way to take pictures like this. It’s either that the blue sky is very clear or the curtain detail is too dark.