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How to Get the Right White Balance for Your Photos

Tips for using a neutral white card
Photo of white balance tips

One of the things beginner photographers struggle with is getting the right white balance for their images. We’ve written about what white balance is exactly and where you can find controls for it on your camera but in the below tutorial, David Manning shares an easy way to nail white balance in your images every time.

“Have you ever struggled with white balance for your photos or video?” he asks. “You go out for a shoot, you bring all the photos back, you throw them on your computer, you start working on them. You’re working on them for a while and maybe you go grab lunch, maybe you come back and you look at them and you say: ‘Ah, these are all wrong!’ Today, I’m going to share with you one super simple tip to know that your white balance is correct, so you never have to worry about white balance again.”

In the video at the bottom of this post, Manning explains how to become “a white balance master” by using a simple photo accessory called a neutral white card.

“Today we are going to be using a very simple tool, the one that I have is a little expensive but it’s because it has some more features to do some other things,” he notes. “But the tool that you need to get your hands on is a neutral white card.”

On the first page of the higher-end card that Manning uses – the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 ($119) – are a variety of color reference patches that allow you to create a custom calibrated color profile for the camera you’re shooting with. That’s a more advanced calibration technique, but on the reverse side of the card are neutral white and middle gray rectangle targets. The neutral white is the one Manning focuses on in his tutorial.

“So how to do we use neutral white card? It is super simple,” he says. “So, each time you go out for a shoot, in each lighting scenario you are going to have your subject hold this up next to them just like this. Then take two or three photos with this in it.”

The next step is to go into your photo editor on your computer – Photoshop, Lightroom and many others which have this functionality – and find the white balance eye dropper tool.

“You take that eye dropper tool and you pull up your reference photo that has the neutral white card in it and you take that little eyedropper tool and you click on it. And that’s it—perfect white balance.”

There’s a little bit more to it than that, which Manning explains in the video but those are the basics of mastering white balance by using a neutral white card. Check it out below and if you don’t already have a card, get one today and try it out on your own images.

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