Remember that the purpose of white balance is to ensure the colors in your photos accurately represent the colors as you see them with your eye. If you are not achieving the colors you want in that old dingy basketball gym another option to use the custom or manual white balance setting. Don’t let those words scare you away it’s not that difficult. In some basketball gyms you might find custom or manual the best way to find and then save a color setting that works.
What is custom white balance
In simplest terms you are giving the camera a reference “white” photo from which it can create proper color for your photos. You put the camera in a mode telling it you are going to take a reference white photo, take it and then the camera will do it’s magic. By doing this in the same lighting you will be shooting your basketball photos the camera will help you achieve proper color. Then once you achieve the best white balance you can for that location, if it’s one you come to often, you can save it as one of the presets and you’ll be ready to go each time you come back to that gym. I took the following three shots using various white balance, the first florescent, the second incandescent, and the third a manual white balance using the white wall on the side of the gym.
What to use
A number of items can work for your reference shot, from purchasing a white or grey card to using many free items found around your home.
- white or grey card (purchased)
- 3×5 card
- coffee filter
- pringles lid (at least they are good for something)
- Inside of your camera bag (often the proper grey)
- White paper or items in the gym
How to do it
Essentially you will tell the camera you are going to do a custom setting, then take a picture of something that is ALL white and then save the setting. Those are the steps. Below are the steps for a Nikon D200, other cameras will be similar only the buttons you press may be different
Step 1 – Place your card or item in the lighting
Step 2 – Change or rotate your WB setting to “PRE”
Step 3 – Fill the viewfinder with white (all white, focus doesn’t matter)
Step 4 – Press the WB button until the PRE begins to flash
Step 5 – Release the WB button; then press the shutter button (taking a photo)
Step 6 – You will now see “Good” or “NoGd” on your display (- Good means you have now set a preset, otherwise do it again)
Saving the results
Your custom white balance is now set and saved. On the D200 you can save up to 5 presets. This can be helpful when you are returning to the same gym to shoot basketball. Once you have the color the way you want it, just remember that location on your presets and don’t overwrite it.
Go try it, it’s not that hard and you might just achieve that beautiful color you’ve been looking for.