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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop CS6
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White Balance and Monitor Calibration

  • White balance is an attempt to correct the color from any light source to a neutral balance.
  • Your camera has presets for White Balance correction - good but not perfect.
  • You can correct your White Balance in Camera RAW with e Color Temperature slider.
  • You need to have your monitor calibrated as closely as possible to neutral color, so that your images will be accurate.
  • Ideally you should match your corrected monitor to any other monitor to ensure a perfect color match.
  • Using your operating system's color calibration is the best low cost way to get fairly accurate color
  • There are instructional slideshows for both PC and MAC monitor calibration in the download for this lesson
  • Calibrating to a printer can be done by matching your monitor image to a print of that image under a daylight balanced light.

White Balance and Monitor Calibration

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:06
  • White Balance 0:55
    • What is White Balance?
    • White Balance Preset In Your Camera
  • Example: White Balance 3:09
    • Daylight
    • Tungsten
    • Shade
  • How Does White Balance Apply in Photoshop? 6:56
    • Camera RAW & Temperature Slider
  • Monitor Calibration 8:39
    • Monitor Calibration
    • Calibrating Your Monitor Overview
    • A Basic Color Monitor Calibration Method
    • A Basic Method for Calibrating to a Printer
  • Lesson Summary 17:03

Transcription: White Balance and Monitor Calibration

Hi everyone, Mike Brown here again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

We've been talking about quality, and we've talked about light and color, all these factors that still work with mantra; garbage in, garbage out, starting with the highest quality and carrying it through.0007

It's essential to have your camera set up and your computer and Photoshop set up properly, and so that you understand what's going on, so that you can utilize these tools in the maximum way to get the best results.0021

In this lesson, we're going to discuss white balance in your camera, and how we can correct it in Photoshop, and monitor calibration--the final step in getting everything set up--the camera and the computer, so that Photoshop works well for you.0037

So let's get started with white balance.0055

What is white balance?0058

It's the attempt to correct an image so that the colors appear natural to the human eye.0060

The human eye and brain, we have different light sources, there's daylight, there's fluorescent lights, there's incandescent bulbs in your house which are simply very warm lights...there's lighting outdoors in a football game and the different temperature lights up in the lights there.0067

But in every circumstance, your eye seems to see the color exactly the same, whether it's daylight or a fluorescent light or an incandescent bulb--that's because you've seen it enough and the brain knows how to compensate for what the lighting conditions are and make you appear to see it the same in all situations.0090

The camera doesn't know how to do that, the camera is only capturing light, whatever the light sources are, it just captures it, so the manufacturers have added pre-sets called white balance pre-sets to attempt to correct for these different color temperatures that occur with the different light sources and conditions.0113

Let me give you a couple of examples of how this works.0136

For example, light in the shade on a sunny day is actually bluish, because you're not getting the yellow light from the sun, that's being blocked by whatever's shading you, you're getting the light from the sky which is blue, so in truth of fact the light is very, very blue.0140

And so the camera needs to make a compensation for that so that it appears natural.0159

Light from an incandescent light bulb that you have at home--a reading light, a standard light bulb, is 3200 degrees Kelvin.0165

Natural daylight which your mind is balancing to is 5500 degrees Kelvin--it's much hotter, so being lesser temperature--it's very yellow-reddish, you see this but your eye compensates.0173

The manufacturer also has to compensate for that and different ones, let me give you an example.0185

I'm going to go to Bridge which is our browsing program, and pull up a couple of examples of how this actually works with the camera.0192

We'll go to the class examples, and I'm going to go all the way to the end, to the white balance are five different images that I shot with my camera, and I shot them all at noon on a sunny day.0201

Nice, clear light, the color temperature of light at noon is between 5500 and 6000 degrees Kelvin, so the light source for all five of these shots was exactly the same, but I took my white balance and I specifically set it at four different pre-sets for correcting for other kinds of light.0221

Now here is your see it's a well-balanced image, the sky is nice and blue, the greenery is green with a little tinge of yellow, and the white fence is nice and bright as well's a little difficult to see--I'll try to make this a little bit larger.0246

The street is a nice neutral gray, see how it almost matches the neutral gray here?0265

So this is a well-balanced photograph--doesn't need any correction.0271

Now, tungsten, which is your incandescent light bulbs, remember we talked about how they're very, very yellowish--they're now at 3200 degrees Kelvin, so if the picture was not corrected, it's going to appear very yellow.0276

You've seen this a lot of times, sometimes you take a picture indoors and it looks very, very yellow, so the corrective pre-set for the white balance for incandescent bulbs is going to put primarily a blue filter over it, I shot this same scene with the tungsten white balance setting and look, there's exactly what I was talking about.0294

Look at it, it's very, very blue because it threw a blue filter on to compensate for what would be yellow, so that with the end if this was shot in incandescent, it would look like this, so tungsten is a blue filter, it's very yellow light.0316

A cloudy day, for example, well let's just talk about open shade--shade's one to show much better.0333

Shade, remember we talked briefly that a shade situation is where the sun's blocked, and you're being lit by the blue sky so the picture itself, which we want to see like this and our eye sees it this way, is actually very bluish because the light's all coming from up there in the sky.0341

So the pre-set for white balance for an open shade shot, would have yellow to compensate the opposite of blue, and here you can see that this is a very yellow shot--this was set with the shade white balance pre-set.0359

Notice that by adding the yellow, because I shot this in this light, but with the shade setting it added a lot of yellow, took the blue down, and it took very yellow in here and even the whites have a lot of yellow in and the street, notice the neutral gray, it has a lot of yellow in it, so the white balance pre-sets are simply attempts to compensate in the camera by the manufacturer for the different types of light.0378

The problem is, it doesn't always work, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, so we have to have other ways to deal with this, and does white balance apply?0408

One of the primary corrections that you make to an image in Photoshop is to neutralize that color and make it absolutely perfect like your eye would see it--you can do this in Camera Raw with the color temperature slider if you have a problem, and even when you shoot it with the correct pre-set for white balance in the camera, it may be off a little bit.0421

Let me give you a very quick example of that--we'll go back to Bridge, back to these photos, let's go ahead and open up the tungsten shot...and this is our other program that you'll see, and it's called Camera Raw.0441

Now the shot is very blue because notice the color temperature, the color temperature is 3000 which is normally what an incandescent bulb is and that's the filtration that was put in place for this, but we shot it on a day where it's 5500 degrees Kelvin.0455

Here in Camera Raw there's a color temperature slider--it's 3000, so if we move it up to about 5500, look what happens to the, we're back and we have the normal photograph, we can even bring it down a little bit to maybe 5350, and so all we did is use the color temperature slider to take it from the 3000 up to between 5000 and 5500 and corrected it.0473

So if it doesn't get corrected in the camera, we can do it in Photoshop, that's how white balance works in your camera, and how we can correct it in Photoshop, so now let's go on to monitor calibration.0505

We've gone and got the camera and understand everything here, now how do we get your monitor, like my MacBook Pro right here, to show you accurate color?0522

Monitor calibration--to create accurate color, your monitor needs to be calibrated to a neutral color.0533

To make sure that other monitors see your files accurately, you need to match your monitor to other monitors or printer, this is called a color profile.0540

Now we're not going to deal with that in this course in a heavy fashion because that's a whole other course all to itself, all we're going to do is I'm going to show you how to calibrate your monitor as neutral as we possibly can in a very easy fashion, and in 99% of the situations, even myself as a pro, it works just fine.0551

Calibrating your monitor, monitor calibration's a whole course of study like I said--there are a lot of opinions on the best ways--if you're working with other people who will be frequently using you files, you need to use a professional device to calibrate your monitor, and then you take it and calibrate to another monitor or a printer or projector.0573

This allows the other devices to see your files just like you see them, because monitors, they're different manufactures, they're different ages, the physical monitor also amount of use changes how the color is on a monitor even if you have it calibrated, so your picture can look different on any of innumerable devices, so by using something--0594

This picture in the corner here, this is a company called Color Monkey Excite Color, this is their calibrator, you fix it and hold it up to the screen, it will calibrate, then you can hold it to another screen and it will calibrate that and match the two of them up so when you take a picture from yours with that color profile is what it's called, embedded in it, and open it up on another monitor, it will automatically correct it as best as possible to look like yours.0618

That's the complicated end, forget that.0648

We're going to go a simple way to calibrate your monitor and match to your printer.0651

Most of us use primarily our own monitor and printer and I have a very easy way to calibrate a monitor and match up.0657

OK, so we're going to not deal with the big ones, we're going to do this in the simple fashion.0665

This is a lot of copy, but it's pretty basic and simple, a basic color monitor calibration method.0672

OK, here we go, step by step...for PC users, those of you who are on PCs, go to your Control panel, then type in calibrate display color in the search box that comes up.0679

Now, just follow the instructions that will help you set the neutral gray points and give you neutral color, that's it, you have now made a color profile for your monitor.0698

Now, for Mac users, go to the System Preferences which happen to be right here, click--I'll just go ahead through it real quick since we're on it, it open up the System Preferences for me, come on, there we go.0709

Go to Displays, go to Color, go to Calibrate, make sure the expert mode is clicked, and just follow the simple steps.0723

Now, that's it right there and you've made a color profile for your Mac.0735

Now, that was real simple and if you forget that, don't worry about it, to see a slideshow step by step for calibrating either the Mac or the PC monitor, just click on the appropriate link in the quick notes, right below this video right on your page, you'll see that.0739

And what I've made is a little video that just step by step shows you how to do it, and that'll take care of you, no problem, your monitors are now fairly accurate--they're not 100% perfect but they're pretty darn good.0757

Not as perfect as the external device might do, but really close.0772

Now, one other thing I want to mention, you should re-calibrate your monitor every couple of months, because the more you use it, as it ages, the color of the actual LCDs shift slightly, so you re-calibrate every now and then so it's always accurate for the moment that you're using it.0777

The monitor changes with age and this will counteract that change.0798

OK, that takes care of that.0801

Now, we're going to talk now about the best method--a basic method, for calibrating to a printer, this is a step by step here so follow along as we go.0805

The first step is calibrate your monitor--you've already done that up here.0817

The second step very simply, print out an image, put the image up that looks good on your monitor, and simply print it, don't make anything else, don't do anything else, just print it.0822

Now, this is slightly tricky but this is it, put that print under a good daylight light source.0835

Now I don't mean take it out and hold it in the sun, but if you're near a window in your office or you can get near a window where it gets good daylight but just off the sun--not the blue-blue, but right next to the sun but not direct, that's a good place for it.0845

The best way, if you can, is to get a 5500 degree Kelvin bulb, you can actually buy daylight bulbs in a photo store or something of that source, and that will give you the perfect 5500 degree Kelvin light on your print, but again that's a little advanced, this will give you the most accurate color.0860

If you can't do that, just get a brand new--not a used, not another one in the house, go out and buy yourself a new, standard, soft white light bulb, not one of the new efficient ones--a good, standard, daylight, soft light light bulb, and use that--it's fairly close because it'll be new.0881

OK, now, once you've done that, your monitor calibration should have clean color, so all you need to do is match--what I mean by that is you've already calibrated the monitor, and you've got the black and white stripes, you've got the color strips, everything works.0903

The monitor is fine, you can change the exposure, in other words brightness level of your monitor, not working in Photoshop but just the monitor itself, the exposure (brightness) up and down--we're not talking about dramatically because that'll shift the color a little bit, but just slightly up and down, there should be enough range available to match to your print.0920

So all you need to do is match the exposure of your screen image to the print, do this first by adjusting the brightness of your monitor, brightness only, not color0941

In other words just brightness on the monitor--your brightness control right up here.0954

You should not have to make a very large change, then make another print.0958

This should match up pretty well, you might have to make slight adjustments to your image exposure in Photoshop for a final, perfect match.0964

Very simple; exposure change to match to the print that's under a light, and then if it doesn't work with the second print, or it's close but not perfect, minor changes with the exposure in Photoshop, OK?0976

Now leave your monitor at the brightness that you changed it to, and that's what's called a color profile--the same with the other ones, that will always give you, since you've already matched it to your printer, now you've matched up, and that's it.0993

You have technically made a color profile of your monitor to your printer, and it's not going to be dramatic change, so what you have on here will work for everything else, and now you have calibrated your monitor to a printer.1008

So, we've gone over white balance, what it is, what the camera does with it, and how you can correct for it.1023

We've also gone very simply into calibrating your monitor using the controls within the Mac operating system or the Windows operating system to get your monitor to give you as clean a color as possible.1031

Now we're ready to get into Photoshop and get down to learning how to make your images fabulous.1047