STEP BY STEP Get the balance right

 Balance calibration


You can use whatever lighting comes to hand-even an old angle-poise lamp You donneed colour-corrected studio lights to get great still life shots.

This setup uses an everyday desktop lamp fitted with a 60W tungsten bulb. Its advantage is that you can position it and point it where you like to get the best lighting effect.

Its disadvantage is that it produces a strong yellow/ orange colour cast. In the days of film, that would have made it impossible to work with, but with a digital SLR, you can correct it in-camera.

01 Set up your subject

First of all, get your still life set up with all your objects, props and lights in place. Ita good idea to do this first because if you move things around afterwards, the balance between the lamp and any ambient light from windows might alter. Manual White Balance calibration can allow for mixed lighting like this, so long as it doesn t change.

02 Set the White Balance

On this camera, a D3100, the Custom White Balance setting can be found on the Shooting menu. First, select the White balance menu, then scroll right down to highlight the Preset manual’setting at the bottom. You can click OK to use the existing custom preset, but to store a new one, press the right button on the multi-selector.

03 Measurement options

You can use an existing photo as the basis for your White Balance calibration, which could be useful if you have a shot of a neutral subject in the same lighting. To create a new setting, select the top  Measure  setting. Next, youasked if you want to override the existing setting.

04 On-screen help

On the D3100 we re using, the camera tells you what you need to do. You don t have to use a photographic grey card as youmeasuring the colour balance, not the exposure level (weusing a grey card just because it has a neutral tone). There are other options-see the Take it further’box.

06 Take the test shot

Place your grey card, or whatever neutral target you re using, in the same light as your subject. Move in close so the target fills the frame, then take a picture. The camera doesn t need to focus and will take the shot even if focus isnachieved. Itonly the colour information it needs.

07 Data acquired?

If the test shot is OK, the camera will say acquired’on the display. On cameras with status LCDs (see step 5), you ll see either  or Gd’. If the test shot isn t accepted, alter your position slightly and try again-perhaps you were casting a shadow, or there were other colours in the frame.

05 Higher-end Nikons

On more advanced Nikons with a White Balance button and a status LCD display on the top, hold down the button and turn the command dial to select PRE. Release the button briefly, then press and hold it for a few moments until the PRE symbol flashes. You re now ready to take the test shot.

OS Using your new setting

The new White Balance setting is now stored as the PRE setting. To use it, choose PRE from the list. Cameras such as the D3100 and D5100 can only store one White Balance setting, but some models can store five-new settings are stored in slot ’, but you can copy them to slots d1-d4.

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