Home > Photography > Photography Notes (1) –Setting White Balance for RAW

Photography Notes (1) –Setting White Balance for RAW

Setting White Balance for RAW

Setting the white balance for a RAW format picture is much easier, when taking a picture, than a JPEG. You can follow the same steps as a JPEG, but with a RAW file you can set the white balance after the picture is taken. The following steps outline the workflow for a RAW file:

  1. I place my gray card in a place that is lit by same light as my picture. If I’m outdoors on a sunny day I place my card in the sun. When indoors with a light source, I place it under the light. Doing this will make sure the light provides a colour cast to the gray card.
  2. Instead of setting the white balance manually, I set the camera to “Auto” or “Program”.
  3. I then take a picture of the gray card (it doesn’t have to fill the viewfinder, just as long as it is in the picture).
  4. I keep the same settings, and take my pictures.

Just as with a JPEG you will need to repeat the above RAW format steps when the lighting changes.

As mentioned earlier, the white balance for RAW pictures can be set after the fact in a photo editor. The following steps outline how to correct the white balance:

  1. Once all the pictures (including those with the gray card) have been downloaded to your computer, open the gray card picture in a photo editor.
  2. The editor will usually provide a means to set the gray level in the picture. For example, in Photoshop it looks like a gray eyedropper. Select that, and then click the gray card in the picture.
  3. Save the colour settings to your computer.
  4. Apply the saved colour settings to all pictures that were taken in the same lighting conditions.
  5. Repeat for all gray card pictures that were taken.
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