In order to get very precise color reproduction it is of course important to use a grey card. Most cameras give a pretty good Auto White Balance though, which can be very useful in a lot of circumstances where precise colors are not that important – e.g. in landscape photography where it is often more about expressing a mood.
Another benefit of shooting RAW
Among the many great benefits of shooting RAW files, the ability to change the White Balance in an image after it has been shot, is probably one of the most important features. It’s only possible to change the White Balance the right way when you are working on a RAW file.
The White Balance Tool and the Color Balance Tool in Capture One Pro 7 give you two tools for working with the White Balance in an image and the ability to recreate the original color balance of the screen or just create a whole new color balance.
Two tools for tweaking the White Balance in an image
On the Color Tool Tab in Capture One Pro 7 you find the White Balance Tool and the Color Balance Tool. Both tools only change the White Balance of the image, which simply is a matter of changing the overall ratio between the red, green and blue component of the image.
You can basically do the same thing with the White Balance Tool and the Color Balance Tool, but they have a very different user interface approach. They each have their own strengths.
White Balance Tool:
Let’s start with the White Balance Tool. For landscape images I typically use the Camera Auto White Balance or a custom daylight balance in my camera. So I won’t need to use the White Balance color picker and a grey card shot to establish a good starting point for the White Balance.
Typically an Auto White Balance will not give you the same as if you are making a click balance on a grey card. If you for instance are shooting in the warm yellow sunlight around sunset, a click balance on a grey card will fully remove the warm tone in the image. An Auto White Balance on the other hand will balance the light, but it will keep some of the warm look.
So if you compared the Kelvin and Tint values in two images where one was made with a click White Balance on a grey card and the other by using Auto White Balance you will get different results. Only the click balance will give you approximately the right kelvin temperature of the light.
If you want to change the White Balance you can just drag the Kelvin and Tint slider. If you by accident have set your camera to a totally wrong White Balance settings for instance like “fluorescent” for a landscape image, you can use the Kelvin and Tint values to guide you to a setting, which would be a good starting point for optimizing the White Balance. So if you have been shooting in daylight, then set the Kelvin between 5000 – 6000K and the Tint near 0. Remember the Kelvin read-out is a guide and not an exact Kelvin measuring device.
The left image shows how the image would look if the camera White Balance accidently has been set to” Fluorescent”. In the image to the right the Kelvin slider has been dragged to 5450K and the Tint slider to 0. This is a much better starting point for a neutral White Balance for the image. The slightly greenish cast can be removed by fine-tuning the Tint slider.
Using the Kelvin and Tint slider
Quite small changes in Kelvin temperature lead to a quite different color appearance. Typically when dragging the Kelvin slider to achieve a certain look, you will also need to fine-tune the Tint slider. Working with the Kelvin slider you basically change the image between a blueish look and a yellowish look, which will give the images a colder look or a warmer look , which is something that can add value to an image.
The Tint Slider adjusts between a greenish look and a magenta look. Often you use the Tint slider to minimize unwanted color tints in your image.
Above is the same image, but with four different Kelvin temperature settings in the White Balance Tool. They are very different but still very nice and still realistic versions of the image. The image itself hardly contains colors so it gives you quite a large range of possibilities for crating your own look.
The Color Balance Tool
With this tool you can achieve a specific look in one simple operation by simply dragging the White Point (center circle) to a specific color toning. Once you have your desired toning, you can use the two sliders to fine-tune the look.
The Saturation slider increases or decreases the effect of the toning. With the Hue slider you can fine-tune the color toning.
Every time you make a click White Balance, the tool will reset and set the white point in the neutral center of the hue circle. Moving the white point in the hue circle will now tone the white point to the specific color in the hue circle.
The tool has some very useful presets to create a warmer or a colder look. I will strongly recommend you to try out these presets. It is an easy way to get to a good starting point for a specific look, but you can also create your own preset.
A great benefit of using the Color Balance Tool is that you can easily achieve the same look independently of the real color temperature of the scene or independently of what camera you are using as the Color Balance Tool is an adjustment to the already established White Balance.
All the best,
The Image Quality Professor
The digital pioneer, Niels V. Knudsen, is Phase One’s Image Quality Professor and founder of the IQP blog. Moreover, he is responsible for breakthrough advancements in image quality both in Phase One’s medium format camera systems and in Capture One Pro.