I’m excited to kick off the second installment of the Plate to Pixel Series I started last week on CC! I know Wednesdays are normally devoted to Biz Notes posts, but for the next few weeks I’ll be alternating between food photography and business posts each Wednesday.
Now that we have that scheduling information squared away, let’s talk white balance. White balance is something I’m really excited to better understand when it comes to food photography. The white balance settings on your dSLR allow you to accomodate the changes in lighting conditions throughout the day, for everything from daylight conditions, to cloudy, low light, fluorescent, and more. According to Helene Dujardin, adjusting the white balance is necessary so that the colors in your picture are represented as close as possible to real life colors- where whites are neutral and all the other colors appear like they would to your naked eye. Let’s see what that actually looks like!
Most dSLRs have 6-7 different white balance modes, the first two being auto and daylight. Auto, as I’m sure you can guess, lets the camera meter the light and adjust the white balance. Daylight is the setting that should be used in daylight, of course. I like viewing these photos side by side though, because I think they really capture the capabilities of the camera when you specify the white balance. These photos were taken in daylight, and isn’t it interesting how the photo in the daylight setting more accurately captures the colors of the lemons and limes?
The next setting is cloudy, which is good to use in lower light daylight settings (like in late Fall or early Winter). It warms up the photo, toning down some of the silver cast items. Since this photo was shot in daylight, the warmth is not so appropriate, but it helps show the overall effect on the photo.
Tungsten, the next setting, casts what feels like a blue shadow over the entire picture. This is because this setting is best used indoors in incandescent or bulb lighting. It’s perfect for restaurants where photos can tend to look really orange or yellow- it cools everything down.
The last mode we’re going to cover is flash, which is similar to cloudy as it offers the same warm touch.
I have a Canon Rebel T2i, which also provides settings for shade and white fluorescent. Their effects are similar to cloudy and flash respectively. The last type of setting you may want to play around with is custom white balance, where you can actually set how your camera reads what whites should look like by taking a photo of a white surface. All cameras handle this a little bit differently, but you want to be sure you choose a true white surface (like a piece of paper), and make sure the white area covers the entire frame. I’m going to focus on these settings before I jump into customizing my white balance, but feel free to explore!
Content from this post was inspired by Helene Dujardin’s book, Plate to Pixel. All photos are my own.