Use your color histogram to correct your white balance

Use your color histogram to correct your white balance

Have you ever noticed that when you are shooting an image, you look at the image on your screen on your camera and you notice right away that the colors do not look right? You know, they are too blue or too red or whatever. Yes you can run into this situation even when you are shooting with a camera that has a great auto white balance setting. As you get more and more careful with the quality of your images and when you want to capture super high quality images the first time so that you can limit post production edits. So how do you fix this color issue which is a white balance issue?

Did you know you can use your color histogram on your camera to help you set white balance very close to perfect every time. To do this I recommend that you actually figure out how to manually set the custom white balance setting on your camera. Hold on now, it really is easy. Most cameras have an auto setting and then several settings for situations weather that be indoor lighting, cloudy etc. But, most cameras also have a custom setting that allows you to set the temperature of the light that you are shooting. Honest, this really is easy, you just need to play with it just a little bit and make it part of your workflow so that you do it every time you are shooting or at least every time you want to be perfect.

Take a gray card or some neutral color object and capture a shot of the grey card. Now, look at your histogram for the image. You can see a spike in the red, green and blue histograms when you shoot this gray card. If the spike in all the three histograms is at the same place, then the image is neutral and the color temperature is set correctly. Otherwise, you will need to adjust the custom color temperature setting for your camera. Yes you can also set to one of the built in white balance settings in your camera and you will get a close approximation of the correct color temperature for the lighting situation. For example, if the blue channel is much towards highlights, then the scene is too much bluish and you should adjust the color temperature or white balance accordingly.

See that is all that there is to it, simple right? Your colors should be much closer to perfect from here on out.

I would appreciate your feedback on this article and ideas for other articles in the future.

Happy shooting


About waynem

As a Minnesota based photographer and artist I have been greatly influenced by the Upper Midwest. I focus my skills and energies on portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, architectural and fine art work. My best work comes from images first painted in my mind. I mull over a prospective image for weeks or months, seeing it from different angles and perspectives, then finally deciding what to capture. The result is images that deeply touch people's emotions and powerfully evoke memories and dreams. My images are used commercially by companies and organizations ranging from Financial Services firms, mom and pop Ice Cream shops and The Basilica of St Mary to communicate their shared vision and values. Book and magazine publishers have featured my images on their covers. My photographs also grace and enhance the decor of many fine homes.
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2 Responses to Use your color histogram to correct your white balance

  1. Clark Longnecker says:

    Wow, thanks. This is great information. I’ve been wishing I could use my D90 to meter color temperature. Now I can! Before reading this, I hadn’t checked to see if the histogram could be displayed as R G B. It can. Now my grey card has more purpose… up front, rather than in post-processing only. Many thanks!

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