Skip to main content

Studio Essentials: White Balance

Lesson 3 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Studio Essentials: White Balance

Lesson 3 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

3. Studio Essentials: White Balance

Where should you set the white balance when working with studio lighting? In this lesson, learn where to set the white balance on the camera, and why those settings are different for different types of light and even different brands. Work with additional factors that can also affect color temperature.


Class Trailer

Day 1


Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed


Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure


Studio Essentials: White Balance


Light Principles: Inverse Square Law


Lighting Patterns


Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns


Quality of Light and Modifiers


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff


10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2


10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5


10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10


One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz


Day 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5


10 Common Lighting Mistakes


Day 3


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12


Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Your First Studio Lighting


Lesson Info

Studio Essentials: White Balance

What white balance should you have? Ok, so I have a demonstration of this a little bit later to show you that white balance changes drastically depending on her skin tone. If I'm on auto and she has dark skin it's going, it could totally mess up correct white balance well, when I change my modifier so modifiers give a warmer effect than others. And so in other words, what you don't want to dio is you do not want to be on auto because auto changes a bit like let's say that somebody walks in in a bright red dress on a black background, it reads it and what it's saying is like, ok, I'm looking at this photo overall and I see a lot of red well, red is warmer, so your camera thinks ok, so this is probably not on purpose we're going to cool it down it's to read, I'm going to add some blue so what'll happen is you'll have a really dull red dress and she'll have really bluish skin tones, so all these different things make a difference so you don't want to shoot on auto white balance it just it...

will give you a lot of inconsistencies and also if the whole shoot it's changing that gives you a lot more photoshopped to dio are a lot more work in light room to get it right so here are some of your considerations on your camera and this is the ones I picked from from the cannon website this is what it said you have different presets you've got a daylight preset and this is just the whole thing color temperature just know we're trying to match here you really need to know what it means for the purposes of this class but like this is one temperature for daylight flashes a different color temperature is going to show how your photo looks it changes the color in your photo well, I looked up that my studio strobes the ones that I'm using here right now it's like kind of in the middle it isn't exactly either one of these so we're going to talk about a couple things you khun dio to get your white balance correct without this shooting auto by the way just so you all know the lights that I'm using this entire class are pro photo d one airs I used these in my studio yes they are more expensive for sure but do not worry I'm going to be addressing like the last day I have a recommended kit for five hundred dollars and a recommended kit for fifteen hundred dollars just getting started off and also on day two when talking about what to purchase I also talk about well why would you want a more expensive brand? Do you really need it and the answer is some people no absolutely not so I'll recommend something that fits everyone but this is actually what I use in my studio so I wanted to kind of demo what I used nowadays all right so I looked at this and I said all right, well it's not either so if I said the preset which one looks best I personally when I shoot this particular strobe this particular model I shoot with flash white balance because it looks a little bit warmer but it's pretty close this is what I'm happy with but chances are not everybody has a particular light where the priest that will look right so here's a couple things you can do to get your white balance ideal the first one is to use a great card and you do not especially since this is a one a one class you do not need to buy a really fancy or really expensive great card there are a bunch of them that are like last light makes a pop up one that's on the other side of a reflector there are just pieces of cardboard that are made for this purpose what you don't want to do is you don't want to go to a seymour michael's hobby lobby like a craft shop and grab a great piece of paper and pretend it's a great card because it's a very specific gray and a lot of times like a neutral gray that we think looks neutral has blue in it or has a different tones you actually do need to go out by one of these it's not super expensive so what you're looking for is some kind of neutral reference it can be gray or like just little bit less than white and what you'll do is at the beginning of your session you'll take a picture and here's one right here you'll take a picture of this where your subject holds it right in front of their face and you take a shot okay? And by the way I think this is an awesome example of what I wanted to tell you you see can you see this down here like really really barely the very bottom it's a little bit darker so I think my camera I've shot at least two times the number of frames recommended for it to be alive still like I think it's supposed to be last so what? Sixty seventy thousand friend I'm like way into the two hundred thousands for this camera so eventually your shutters do start to have wear and tear on them so even though I'm totally within my things speed sometimes for cameras it's just not quite right so everybody I'm changing to one when sixtieth of the second just ended that's going to go away okay so what I'm going to d'oh is I'm going to shoot on my flash preset because it's closest but I know that it's not quite right it's not quite what I need and everybody else is going to be different so when you take a picture of this, what you do is in light room in camera raw in whatever you're using you use this as a neutral reference point so this class is not going to get into this but perhaps in light room if you've used that you've seen the little white balance eyedropper and what you're doing is you're saying ok photoshopped light room this is supposed to be completely neutral no color caste whatsoever and so what happens is when you grab that little white balance eyedropper you say light room this is neutral and it will remove any color caste created by incorrect white balance or the color temperature of your like so then it gets you perfectly absolutely correct white balance that you can then apply to the rest of your photos so this is the easiest way to go ahead and make sure you have correct white balance but as all things in life it's not that simple there are other things that will mess this up so I just want to give this put this on your to be aware of list great card is a great place to start things that end up changing white balance is let's say I take a picture of her looks great and then I switched to a soft box changing a lot of fire will change with the white balance looks like just the way it'll shift the color temperature so every time I change a modifier I'd have to grab another picture of the great card or if you started off like me and you have to make your hold right there if you start off like me I started off with a less expensive brand which I shot it for years and got awesome pictures so it doesn't matter but I start off with a pulse e buff white lightning I mean I literally shot this for years and they were awesome but I found that sometimes depending on what power setting I was that if I would shoot I get my white balance right and then I turned the power way down it changed the color the color looked a little bit different so just know there's a lot of variability and if so if you get your white balance correctly take one photo and then you change the distance of your life change the modifier, change the power and then later on you're wondering why you don't have color right because all those things affect it can you just guess and make white balance look right? Sure the same ways you can guess and try to get the you know the exposure right but more variability means more chances to mess up so we're trying to keep it all under control and get rid of those variables so great card is in awesome and inexpensive tool to start with and then ask a few questions I would love that all right, there are so many questions coming in, which is always fantastic, so I just want to also see if this things that you already talked about are answering some of these people's questions. So for example, you see, paige says my biggest struggle with studio lights of the skin tones I customs at my white balance I feel like the the colors are still off. I keep hearing about kelvin temperatures, but I don't understand what it is or how to set the correct values for my studio, so doing things like what you just explained with the great card and then we'll help you figure that, so let me give you a couple other tips like I got a few other month great sure definitely try the great card and maybe maybe you're changing a few things along the way, which is leading to the inconsistencies also you don't want to shoot like I try to keep him consistent, so I still put flash white balance and then get a great card to at least they all have the same starting point, so they're not jumping with auto at least they're all kind of the same baseline another even and if I could go back to the kino, another another tool to get correct white balance is actually jump ahead of this is a color checker. So this is on the other page of this so this one you pay more for, um there's a color checker made by x right and there's, a color checker made by spider. So if for some reason you're noticing that your color is always funky, here's a couple of reasons, all right reason number one what color are your walls in your studio? If you think you painted them on neutral gray because you heard you're supposed to paint things neutral gray, chances are it is not neutral gay. It perhaps could be slightly blue pain, which means you might have your white balance right may have everything right, but the light bounces around. That room hits the slightly blue walls, and now you have slightly blue light, so that might be something that's not working out the calvin temperatures you don't, it depends on your level. You don't really need to know it for the most part, basically it's on a scale, how warm or how cool your cameras, perceiving light and each hundred step up is just a little bit increment, warmer or cooler, you don't use the names, no it for the color checker. And flipped us down so the color checker is a little bit fancier way of making sure you have the color right so we have to hold this in front of your face okay, so this color checker what it lets me do is I can take a picture of it and it has neutral graze at the bottom along the bottom here but then also right where the people's heads I don't know if the camera bill to do that, but if you take a look at it like little pictures of people's heads in the second row down each one of those are technically gray but this one is a little bit bluer than this one and what it lets you do is maybe the correct white balance that you're getting it's correct but correct isn't always pretty like sometimes a little bit warmer looks better for skin tones, so what this lets you do is when you do your little white balance saying in light room or wherever else you're doing it, you can click on the first one that's totally neutral doesn't look good click on the next one that warms up the photo just a little bit more click on the next when it warms up the float a little bit more so it might just be that you want to use a swatch that's going to make your photo a little bit warmer which is more pleasing to skin tones this is probably for a one o one class the extent that you really need to know is that you have the neutral graze on the bottom it doesn't really matter which one you choose as long as it's not pure black or pure white any of the graves in the middle are fine use the second row of swatches to change the warms but if you get all fancy like maybe you become a fashion photographer, what you do is you can take a picture of this and whether you get spider or x right, they give you there's a free plug in tow light room so what it does is when I take a photo of this and have a quick shot of this and purpose, so when it comes into light room, what it lets me do is tell that plug in tow automatically detect that that little color checker and then what we'll do is it will make sure that every red is the correct read and everybody so it's not just about white balance at that point it's about how every color looks because I get a question a lot about how sometimes read like a really vibrant rich red you look at your photo and it's not the right red sometimes our cameras struggle with that or oranges it's it just doesn't look right especially I've shot like oranges in sunlight they look crazy so what this does is it takes a look and it says ok, so this is what red orange and yellow should look like red, orange and yellow there and then it will actually shift and bring that read back and began and bring that orange back to where it's supposed to be for the most part that really doesn't matter unless you need certain colors represented accurately so just know that that goes a little beyond one o one but maybe we're at that point where you're you know that there's a certain color you shoot all the time that looks wrong and it will do it automatically for you with this plug in so that is an extra eight passport color checker or the spider has a color checker and I got one more for her right? Because there's a perfect lead into the sixties you you're your stages plant totally that actress so the next one is after the color checker we told you this you can do neutral warming up cooling down skin tones that's what it looks like oh also show you what it looks like I'm not sure how well you can all see it but this was when I had the skin tone set tio auto and this is when I use the color checker so it is definitely more flattering skin tone for sure if you shoot darker, warm or african america the skin tones from me my camera gets more confused by the skin tones I don't know why so I'm always using a color checker for those okay so here was the last piece of that equation and john if you have this oh see she's already prepared ok he's the best okay so the last thing that you could d'oh if you could set something called a custom white balance and depending on what camera you have it's a different logo or different symbol and what is allowing you to d'oh it's photograph something neutral actually photograph the light neutrally and say this is supposed to not have any color caste set that as a custom white balance and in all the photos will use that white balance right in camera so there's not any post it's making sure it's correct right away so I was going to show you this particular tool thiss one is called the expo disc and it looks like a filter with funky cool designs on the front of it I'll show you how this is used so all right so I took an auto of this girl skin tone can you see how totally off that is its reading all the reds and her skin tone and it made it very very very blue all right well I could use my wife my great card but I can also set a custom white balance and here's how I would do it okay, can you see me in that photo I'm going to demo this here. What you want to do with this particular tool is you actually stand where your subject is he put this doo hickey on the front of it and you take a picture of the light source with its clashing with it firing at this distance no, at this particular distance I'm gonna have to switch my camera over to manual focus because first I'm shooting with something in front of it but I'm also very close let's make sure we thinks firing I'll take a picture ok, so if you look at my camera and you do have to get the correct size this is the size too small for this one but I didn't bring mine sir john let me borrow his but what you'll see is a grayish white ish enough it should just be a grayish waited screen shouldn't be anything but what you'll be able to say is this is supposed to be neutral this is the light hitting my subject so camera do your thing and make it neutral get rid of any color casts if you have a cannon or a nikon it will change how you do this so this is not exactly what this class is about so I'm gonna point you to your manual but just to give you an idea, okay keynote back sorry so I will get something like this screen over here when I have the correct sized filter on, so it'll be kind of a gray and I'm saying that should be the color that should be neutral for cannon. What I do is I can go into my menus and in back in the menus there's a place where it's a custom white balance and I then select that great photo. But just remember, if you change anything now all those photos have that white balance in your camera so you change your modifier, you change the power of the light like it could change the other option or the other one is for nikon there's actually a butt and that you hit that says pre so saying you want a preset a white balance and when it's flashing, you go over and you take a picture and it sets the picture that you take with the expert disc so there's two different approaches so I just want to show you kind of what this ended up looking like for her. So this was auto white villains flash white bones preset and then custom but maybe you think this one's too warm and you like cooler, so there is a bit of subjectivity to it it just happens to be some of us see color differently, yes on the expertise does it? You said you turn your camera onto manual focus but you don't have to actually focus correct, right? It is nasty folks a striking and looks for focus or its struggles or won't brought a picture if you don't digital right and do the different sides matter which side you're holding up, you're gonna have the bubbly part out because what this is acting as it sees all mentions it sees all the different light sources possibly hitting this surface and the way that it's built it captures all that light so it's considering all the light hitting your subject including if say you had and incorrectly colored wall over here like it's considering all of the color so it would be this side out and and just so you could see if you do get the presentation if you do get the pdf I did do a little bit of run through and how it works canon nikon the idea is the same you're saying this is neutral set this as my custom white balance so this was the summarize those are the things that will mess up your white balance so keep that in mind coming in between you and this is serving for people just beginning again yeah what did he just use a white sheet of paper and then set a custom white balance before you start shooting? Can you do that you can't do that the problem is sometimes white uses blue like a white piece of paper they used blue to make it look super white so it's not actually white and then your pictures they're going to be warmer then they're supposed to be at a lot of photo trade shows if you go to any photo trade shows they give away lens cleaners that are actually neutral gray and you can use them as great cards and then they're free so maybe if you go to the next store like trade you walk around and try stealing this ok? They give them to you so you don't have to steal it yes one more clarification on the expo disc what white balance do you have on your camera set when you are using that expo disc to get the gray good question so if it's the cannon one you're just setting it to what you can actually set it at customs so it knows I like to look for it but you could just set at auto to take a picture because it's saying all right what's what all is in here? Yeah, thank you. Perfect okay, so we're going to summarize everything we just talked about, okay? We'll put this all back together for everyone all right, so to summarize it, set your camera at or near the sink speed for your shutter speed most of us it's one, two hundred of the second, the next one you're aperture depends on what you want to be shooting at. Most lenses are sharpest around f eight ish s a f eleven, so you pick that, um I s o one hundred or whatever's, lowest in your camera. You know, whatever you feel comfortable, that doesn't really make that big of a difference, unless it's too high and then lastly, your white balance should be flash will get you close but it's better to either of custom or do flash with a great card that's giving you all the control possible and then for a light meter. As I said, you would set your shutter, speed your eyes so you're white bones. You get all that set, and then it will give you the aperture based on where you have your strobe set. So those are all the different things to get all set up, so feel free to take a screen grab of this screen. This is your starting point, wherever you are.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


If you're on the fence about this class I can easily answer your concerns. BUY IT. Lindsay provides top notch professional education while keeping things interesting. Her words are precise and direct. I actually felt GOOD just watching and learning. I mean, like someone surprised me with a cupcake kinda GOOD. After the class I could immediately see improvements in my photography. The best part is that I learned enough to see the wrong in my setups. Knowing what's wrong is just as important as knowing what's right. She is funny, easy going, energetic and filled with knowledge. I would also highly recommend her Posing 101 class as a must have addition to this course. I feel like I have learned more than I could possibly use. I will be going through this course over and over again just to make sure it all sinks in. There's THAT MUCH she offers that you will always learn more with each time you watch. I hope this helps someone make the decision to up their game. That is exactly what it did for me.

Jason Ashley

I loved this course! Lindsay spent so much time with explaining each set-up in-depth that anyone picking up a camera could understand how to accomplish their lighting goals. This course covered so many unique (but, most likely to come across scenarios) and how one would approach the challenge and how to successfully accomplish with incredible results, not average-sub-standard or basic results, but above entry-level standards, high-level, money-generating lighting expertise! ZERO laziness in her explanations to the point where she is constantly refining her course in the middle of the 3 days. Her passion gleams throughout each days lessons with so much energy. You know she really wants her students both in-person and through the screen to be successful in whatever type of lighting they choose to dabble in. I am so happy, I have bookmarked, and i'm so happy and fortunate to have this course to reference for hopefully –everrrr. Thanks!

Beatrice Palma

Hi, I am Beatrice from Italy. I think this class is superb. I finally understood what are the guide lines to follow, I tried for years but never found such a good explanation. Lindsay is a wonderful teacher, she explains in a simple way, she shares a lot of knowledge and she shows in practice what are the results of every single choice. Thank you so much, it was really amazing and super interesting!!!!

Student Work