Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quilt Photography Workshop Fall 2013

Challenge #3:  Color and White Balance

If you are wondering, we will eventually be photographing actual quilts in the "quilt" photography workshop but for now, let's still work on the details.  For this challenge, let's focus on color.  As you know, I am definitely not a photography expert so I could be wrong but I think the best way to get the color you want is to learn about white balance.  If you don't have a DSLR, please don't stop reading - even if you can't control the white balance "in camera", you can still work on correcting color by using the right light and/or through editing - even the free editing programs let you fix white balance.

For this challenge, pick a color (or two) and figure out how to incorporate white balance, light, and editing to get the truest representation of that color on your computer screen.  You can use fabric, a WIP, or a finish - just pick something that has a large-ish area of the color you are working on.

My first suggestion would be to use the white balance presets on your camera and take the same exact photo several times changing nothing but the white balance.  I did this recently and wow, what a difference just this variation can make!  I would then suggest you repeat this process using the same subject but under different light conditions - if you took the first set of photos outside, then move inside or if you took the first set in daylight, wait until it is dark and use lamps.

The photos in this post were taken within a few minutes of each other using various white balance settings.  However, shifting my angle just slightly enabled me to use the backlighting from the sun to get that hazy quality that I really like!  For my challenge post, I think I am going to try to work on getting better colors at night with indoor lighting.

And if you are feeling up to it, learn how to set a custom white balance on your camera - I haven't done this yet so I can't give you any guidance.  But I am going to try to figure it out for this challenge so I'll let you know how it goes.

After you have a few sets of photos, upload them to your computer and use your photo editing program to further work on white balance and color.  From what I can tell, it looks like it is called a neutral color picker on most of the free programs I use (picasa and picmonkey.)  Let us know in the comments if you know where to find it using other photo editing programs.

I'll post the link up on my blog November 10th and I'll leave it open for about 10 days.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Find out more information about the Quilt Photography Workshop and the past challenges by clicking here.


  1. Thanks for the head's up! SO much to learn!

  2. Aaahh a combo of working with camera settings and post-editing, eh? Nice. Recently I had my camera on the wrong white balance setting and my photos all came out BLUE, like Violet Beauregard. It makes a huge difference, that one little setting!

  3. Oh fab! I've just discovered white balance existed thanks to Katy littlest thistle - I might actually join in this month, as I really want to play more with this :o)

  4. Great challenge, I'm excited! I know how to do custom white balance and I am happy to write up some instructions if you are interested. I don't use it as often as I should because it is great!

  5. My husband keeps trying to get me to use his photo editing package and I keep using my phone and slapping photos on my blog to his dispair.

  6. Thanks for the advance notice, I will definitely try and join in this month!

  7. The one thing I see missing in this post, and the thing that is really important to remember is that computer screens are all calibrated differently - so even if you get the color looking right on your screen at home, if you look at it on a friend's computer or your mobile device it might look completely different. Using just your screen when trying to color match can lead to weird results on your viewers' screens. There are ways to calibrate your monitor to match industry standards (Pantone) but again, there's no guarantee your audience won't have a funky setup. I'd say work with your camera more than the post-production to get good color representation.

  8. Great challenge Beth! I have been epxerimenting with white balance a bit. it is a great tool when working with artificial lighting.

  9. this is a great topic! I've just gotten into adjusting white balance in the last few months when I shoot. it's amazing the difference it makes. my only real problem? I forget to turn it back when i'm done with a special situation and shoot away the next time in the wrong mode, have to readjust, and shoot all over again. arhg! but it's works wonders otherwise. =) I just need a better brain.

    1. ps - I need to learn how to get my red couches to look right and true to life in my photos. this is a good nudge to work on that! thanks.


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