Tag Archives: lighting

Shooting Basketball Custom White Balance

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.

Florescent WB

 

Incandescent

Incandescent WB Fluorescent

Custom WB (shot the white wall) Custom

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.

Scott

Shooting Basketball (Fluorescent Lighting)

We’ve talked about the challenges of shooting basketball in old gyms.  Let’s get a bit more specific and talk particular types of lighting, starting with Fluorescent lighting.  You will find many basketball gyms using fluorescent lights because of the cost savings.  Fluorescent lights though cause real challenges in achieving good basketball photos.  We are all familiar with those long fluorescent light tubes we see in offices and commercial buildings.  This same design continues today, but it has also changed with looped tubes and other tube designs that can often make it difficult to tell by just looking at the light fixture if you are shooting in a fluorescent gym.

A little history and background
Fluorescent lights began being used commercially back in the 1930s.  They became popular because fluorescent lights are more efficient than incandescent light.  Fluorescent lights are a gas discharge light which means that electricity is used to excite an ionized gas such as mercury vapor.  The resulting ultra-violet radiation is converted to visible light with a fluorescent coating on the inside of the lamp.  Standard heat temperature ratings (kelvins) do not apply to fluorescent lights, in addition fluorescent lights change over time through usage, making basketball photography under fluorescent light most difficult.

Okay…………..that was probably more than any of us wanted to know and what does that have to do with how you get a good basketball photo…………………  

Bottom line
We are real fans of automatic white balance, but basketball gyms and fluorescent lights are one place it usually doesn’t work well.  Fluorescent lights typically produce a more warm color in the orange and red range.  When that combines with yellow/orange hardwood floors and wood bleachers you can get some very orange photos.  
There are primarily three things you can do to improve the color in your basketball photos::

  1. Try the “fluorescent” white balance setting on your camera.   That setting will often compensate quite well for the lights.   
  2. You can manually set the white balance by shooting something white in the gym and then manually adjusting the white balance.  We will cover this in a future blog, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
  3. Shoot in RAW mode and adjust the white balance afterwards.  We also plan to cover this in a blog.

So, if your basketball photos are looking real orange, or reddish try that fluorescent setting and see what you get!


Scott