The Basics of White Balance
Let's look really quick at white balance which we can do with the same set-up. So, different light sources have very different colors to them. So, when we're a little kid and we draw the sun, what color do we draw it?
Yellow, sometimes orange, but warm colors. Well, that's wrong. (chuckles) I don't know why we do that, or how we started doing that. But, sunlight is actually very blue. It's very blue in tone. And we measure, you will see on your camera, if you really look at your white balance settings in your menus, that there's a Kelvin setting. And, that's how you measure the temperature, it's a measurement. And, so you will see that sometimes, on there and that's what that means. But, you don't need to get that advanced to get good white balance so, we're not gonna go that far. So, sunlight is fairly blue or cold toned. Our tungsten or light bulbs that are in your lamps at home, are most likely tungsten and those are very yellow or orange. Okay, and I'm gonna really emph...
asize this one, because I feel like the number one way I know that someone doesn't know what they're doing, when they're taking photos, is to see a yellow or orange photo. If I'm looking through Etsy and I see a whole bunch of thumbnails of yellow images, I'm just not even interested in looking at them. It makes things look cheap. So, yesterday you heard me say, in general, I'll go towards cool tones. It's because those feel more editorial. They feel cleaner, they feel more editorial, they feel a little bit more expensive. And so, really if you are going to shoot with your lights at home, make sure you're changing your white balance. You can fix that, you can fix that yellow cast, but you need to make sure that it's the only light source you're using, so that you can fix it. Because, if you have this light source, just like they talked about, and a light another light on, then you've got an orange light coming in and a blue light coming in. And, I don't know about you, but who looks good with blue on one side and orange on the other side? No one. Okay, so we wanna fix that. And then, fluorescents are green. So, like when you went into the hospital, and you had a baby or you're with a family member there, they take a picture of you and you look sick, just as sick as the patients, it's because you're getting a green cast from the fluorescent lights. So, be really wary of that, as well. You can get daylight bulbs, and they will be close or better. And, you can get video lights with LEDs that are daylight balanced, that are pretty great. They're getting better and better. But, you wanna just be careful and try and use one light source at a time, so that you can get, really beautiful color. There you go. So, this image I was photographing in an actual store, it's called, "Lolli and Pops." They just opened in San Antonio and we were photographing the store for them. They wanted a styled image to sort of show one of their key products which is, their truffles. And, because we were photographing in store, in the mall, during the day, customers were walking around in there, the lights were on, all of their overhead lights, and I had layered this by the window where I was getting window light, because I wanted that light. But, you can see on the left, how orange it looks, from the lights being on overhead. So, I had to ask them, "Please, for like, five minutes, "just turn out the lights in the store." And, they did. That's the image we got and it's a huge difference, in just the overall quality, of the image. One looks professional and one does not. I can't say enough times, do not use your lights, and leave them that orange tone. They will just not look good. People will not buy your product, if they think that you're not spending the time to get good images. Okay, because again, it makes me feel like you don't value it enough. And, if you don't value it, why should I? Right? Just from an orange tone. And, I'm not the only one who feels that way, I know it. So, be really careful. And the reason I'm being so staunch on this, is because it does make such a big difference to your shop. And, I want you to sell your product, I want you to be successful as a small business owner. And so, it's one tiny thing. So, how do you fix that? Your white balance on your camera. And guess what? It's a picture. It's an icon. I don't even have to know the name of it. I don't have to know it's tungsten. I can just set it on the lightbulb setting. It's not hard. So, look in your menu, find white balnace, and go to the icon, match the icon to whatever type of light you're in. If you're in daylight, set it on the sun. If you're in tungsten, you're under your light bulbs, set it on the light bulb, tungsten setting. If you are out on a cloudy day, set it on the cloud. Okay, I don't recommend the shade setting, which is the house with lines coming off. It adds in a ton of yellow and you rarely need to do that. So, even when you're in shade, there's not a lot of times that you really need that much yellow thrown in. So, just go to the cloudy setting. Yes.
Do you recommend doing a custom white balance, instead?
So, you can and we debated talking about that, I think it gets a little bit, when you're first starting out, overwhelming to do that. And, I feel like as long as you've set your white balance close to what it is and then you know how to edit, you're gonna be able to get pretty true colors. So, I think you're okay without it, in the beginning. If you're starting to get really into it, and you have a product that needs to be the exact right item, like if you're pantone, obviously those pantone colors have to look right, then you would wanna invest in a color card and it's a little more advanced than we're gonna get, in here. But, you can definitely solve these issues just by using those icons.
So, I have a great question that may lead into something that we could show and this is from Anna Harris, has multiple votes, that says, "What lens would you recommend for shooting larger objects? " Would the 100 millimeter macro still work, " just positioned further away?"
Yes. So, it just depends on your room. If you have the room to move back with that lens, then it's gonna be fine. If you don't, if you're in a smaller space and you just don't have the room to move that far back then you would want a wider lens. So, a lens like the 50, would be good. I wouldn't go extremely wide in product photography, because you do start getting the edges sort of, stretched out or elongated. And, especially if you're photographing a painting, or something large and square. We don't want one side to be bigger than the other one. We want it to look square.
So, we have a number of questions and I'd love to focus in on making sure everybody understands, sort of, the exposure triangle and these things that you've been teaching us. So, question is, "Can you define again, what you mean "by a longer focal length on a lens versus a shorter focal length."
Yes. So, a longer focal length is considered anything above a 50 millimeter. So, 50 millimeter in lenses is a normal lens and that's the way that the human eye sees. So, when I look at something and I put a 50 millimeter on my camera, actually my camera is different because it's full frame, but, for your cameras, I'm guessing, that when you put the 50 millimeter lens on and you hold it up to your face, you're gonna see the exact same thing you were seeing when you held it down. Anything longer than that, when you put it on your camera and you hold it up, it's going to feel a little bit closer to you. And then, anything wider than that, so a lower number, a 35, a 24, an 18, when you put your camera up to your face it's gonna feel farther away. So, on a full frame camera that's how that works. On your camera, the focal length, and I don't wanna get too confusing, is actually a little bit longer, so that's why I do recommend the 50, because it's really closer to an 85 on a crop sensor. Which is what most of you have. Yes.
Great, another question, we're talking about using the tri-pod. Would you ever use a remote clicker or one of the plug in clickers so that you don't shake?
So, a lot of times I just lose my remotes. I lose them all the time. I'm like, the most unorganized person, so I have had like, five remotes and I lose them. So, if it is a really long shutter speed and I'm worried about shaking the tri-pod or the camera, I actually will set the timer on my camera. So, I can set it to go off in like, three seconds, or 10 seconds, and I can press the button and it gives it time to like, settle and then it takes the picture. So, that's how you get around losing your remotes.
That is a huge tip. When I was first shooting and traveling and didn't have a tri-pod, same thing. That you could use that two second, self timer and then just hold really still. And, that's what I love about this segment that you're teaching us, is so many of these things are not just about product photography, but just really understanding these fundamentals of photography. And, we have so many people that are having, "Aha," moments and are slowly starting to get things that they didn't get before.
Good, I'm so glad. I really feel like we make things a lot more complicated than they need to be. The numbers start to become overwhelming if we let them. So, like I said, adding those post it notes with just simple statements, "This is what this number means," as starting points, are really great. And then, again, an exercise like with the apertures where we actually, in our setting, at our own house, go through and try every single one and then look at the results. And, that's gonna connect with you more than me talking to you for 10 hours about it, because you'll see your results, from your camera, and your lens and how much is gonna be in focus. I actually do wanna point out one thing. This brought it up and I'm super glad. There's a little tool online, that I really love and they actually have apps for your iphone too, buts it's a depth of field calculator. And, what's so cool about it is, you can put in your camera, your specific camera that you're using, your lens that you're using, how far away you're standing from your subject, and what aperture you're using, and it will tell you how much of the image is gonna be in focus. So, it'll be like, "You have four inches "to play with." So, now you know, anything within the four inches is, it's gonna look sharp. Or, with this lens and this close, I have a half an inch in focus. So, I love that tool just to play with. Just to be like, "Well, if I had it at "and I was 10 feet away and I was using this lens, "what would it do?" I do that actually a lot, when I'm going out on shoots that I don't really know what's gonna happen. When I was first learning, like if I was doing family portraiture and maybe I had a lot of depth I needed in focus or maybe I was photographing one person, what settings do I need to make sure that five feet are in focus? Or, to make sure that 10 feet are, or to make sure that everything is blurred out and only a few inches are. And, it's just a fun tool to play with. It gives you a lot of like, answers and a good starting place. If you're starting to feel overwhelmed, it's like a good, it calculates everything for you and helps you out.