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updated : sun 19 oct 2003 7:42pm bst
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Correcting White Balance


Blue fractal broccoli

This is what happens when you use the wrong white balance setting on your digital camera. It's a picture of a variety of broccoli, and if there's a better illustration of a naturally occurring fractal, I'd love to see it.

Fortunately it's easy to correct, and Photodesk will let you semi-automate the procedure too.

  • If you use our EXIFinfo program, it will tell you what the camera settings were when you took the picture. In this case, it shows that the white balance setting was inadvertantly left on "Incandescent":

    Taken : 4:12:35pm Sat 18 Oct 2003
    Camera : E995
    Size : 2048 x 1536 pixels
    Filesize : 620 Kbytes
     shooting information
    Exposure : 10/603 sec at ISO100
    f : 5.30
    Focal length : 14.30mm
    Bias : -3/10
    Program : Aperture priority
    Metering : Pattern
    Flash : Fired
    Orientation : x0,y0=left,top
    Compression : 2
     nikond information
    Quality : Normal
    Colour mode : Colour
    Image adjustment : Auto
    Image sharpening : None
    Saturation : 0
    Noise reduction : OFF
    Digital zoom : Off
    Flash setting : NORMAL
    ISO selection : Manual
    ISO setting : ISO100
    White balance : Incandescent
    Focus mode : AF-C
    Manual focus distance : Auto
    Auxiliary lens : Off

  • Load the image into Photodesk, and open the Image processing window. Select the Balance button.
  • Click on the preview eye, and the details icon to expand the window.


    Image processing setup

  • You need to find a part of the image that's 'neutral' in colour -- white, black or a shade of grey. Luckily the side view of the book behind the broccoli is perfect.
  • Click on the syringe icon. If you move the mouse over the image, it should change to a syringe.
  • Press and hold down an Alt key, and simultaneously drag out a rectangle over the pages of the book.
  • As you do this, the numbers will change to something like this:


    Adjusting the balance

    ...and as you release the mouse button the picture will change to this:


    Green broccoli

  • Bug warning: What should also happen is that the background to the "Neutral" text icon should change to white, signifying you can change it. This doesn't seem to happen in Photodesk version 3.05, but if you place the caret in one of the numeric fields and press Return, all will be well.
  • If you're happy with the settings, you can save this colour correction so you can apply it immediately to any other pictures with a similar incorrect white balance, including ones without a convenient neutrally coloured area.
  • Type a name in the writable icon ("Nikon incandescent" for example), open the pull-down menu, and at the bottom you will see "Add 'Nikon incandescent'". Select this, and the settings will be stored for future use.
  • We haven't actually applied the correction yet (we're still looking at a preview), so select the Magic wand with Whole image, click on the picture twice -- once to cancel the preview, once to apply -- fix with Space and save.
  • For comparison, here's a (much more successful) shot of the same vegetable taken under outdoor lighting:


    Outdoor broccoli

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