ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance

It’s time for another edition of our monthly series “Ask a CMpro” her on the CM photography blog in which we give our CMpros one question and they dish.  Their answers alone are always inspiring and this week we asked them, “What method do you use for setting your white balance in camera and why does that method work for you?”

ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photo
*image by Lora Swinson

ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoBeth Orey, Texas
I use Kelvin for my white balance. I always prefer warmer images and can usually just set the Kelvin I prefer in whatever particular situation (I go case by case) and then forget about it. The main reason I don’t use other methods is because I know I’ll forget to use them! I go for as simple as possible.



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoLaurie Yuenger, Illinois
A lot of people are shocked when I say auto but honestly, 99% of the time, my D700 does fantastic with getting it right on, or really close. I can tell via the LCD (I’m a chimper!) if the white balance is off, and in that case I will use one of the preset settings, or by setting my camera to the WB of the white/grey card or someones white shirt etc.  The reason I mainly use auto is because if I’m outdoors the lighting can chance fast with little ones; I don’t want to stop the flow of the session every time we move to re-establish the white balance when I’d rather focus on manual exposure settings, posing, engaging the subjects and auto does such a great job in my camera anyways!

ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoMichelle DeMoss, California
I always shoot in Kelvin. For me, it’s quick, easy, and I don’t have to carry any extra equipment. I also like that I RARELY have to fix skin tones in Photoshop if I’ve nailed Kelvin.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoLacey Meyers, Oregon
Most often I set a custom white balance. I’ll set if off of my Lastolite Collapsible Grey Card, a grey t-shirt one of my kids are wearing, or even a white wall. I’ll also usually take a photo with my WhiBal card in it so that I can double check my color very easily in Lightroom. This is also helpful if I didn’t have a chance to set a custom white balance in the first place. Kelvin comes in mighty handy though when I have nothing to set a CWB off of!


ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoAmber Scruggs, Virginia
In studio I set my white balance to Kelvin 5600 because that is what is calibrated to my Einstein strobe. Color comes out perfect and that makes photographing newborns so much easier! Outside, I use the Photovision Target to set my custom white balance, it tends to set things on the warmer side of things but I much prefer warmer images over cool.



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoJustine Knight, New York
The amazing Lisa Harrison introduced me to Kelvin for white balance in her Natural Light 101 workshop and I have never looked back! Over time, I have developed a pretty good feel for what kelvin is required for certain lighting conditions.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoCourtney Keim, New Jersey
I used to use auto wb but since I was introduced to the ExpoDisc, I use it exclusively. The color is almost spot on and it only takes a few seconds to take the shot and change my custom wb. I feel like when I was in auto wb my colors were always so cool but since incorporating this into my shooting workflow, my images are so warm and perfect, in my opinion.



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoMandy Haber, Alabama
I started using Kelvin to set white balance about a year and a half ago and never looked back. I get much more consistent results than I ever did using auto or the presets!




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoMarissa Gifford, Washington
I used to rely on Kelvin for white balance, but since I switched to using an ExpoDisc a few months ago my SOOC color has been so much better. It’s super reliable and makes editing much easier.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoCaroline Jensen, Minnesota
I am an ExpoDisc girl all the way! I have the neutral disc and have used it for almost two years. If I forget it then I use Kelvin. I have been very happy with those results as well.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoLeslie Densford, North Carolina
I set my white balance using Kelvin temperatures. Normally I start out at 6000K+ when shooting outdoors and as low as 2860K in low light/indoor conditions. I still have to tweak it a bit in post processing. I hear whispers that Santa may bring me an ExpoDisc and I am really excited about that!



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoHaley Lorraine, Vancouver
I have just started using the ExpoDisc and LOVE it! Super easy to use and it has resulted in a much better image SOOC and a faster edit time for me.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoTracy Bradbury, United Kingdom
I started using Kelvin after seeing a tutorial on it here and have been using it ever since.  My photos seem to come out quite well and sometimes just need a small tweak when opening them up in ACR.  I keep hearing great things about the ExpoDisc and am very tempted to get one.



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoJennifer Dell, Texas
I think I have tried everything in the quest for perfect white balance! That said, I continue to use Kelvin as it’s quick and easy to set up especially if my light is changing quickly while shooting busy children and families.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoMegan Dill, New York
Kelvin is my tried-and-true method. I choose an initial setting based on the time of day and the type of light, then chimp until the white balance appears correct on my LCD. Getting it right in camera is paramount to my sanity when it comes to post processing.



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoCarly Bingham, California
For portraits I use custom white balance with my ExpoDisc. Now, when I have sessions with young children? Setting Custom White Balance flies out the window. Who has time for that? So I mostly use Kelvin. It is so easy, so simple and you don’t have to carry any extra equipment. Love Kelvin!!



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoDana Tate, Missouri
I use and completely trust my ExpoDisc. It works for me because it is quick, easy and accurate. It takes 3 seconds and saves me lots of time in post. I honestly wouldn’t want to shoot without it.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoRebecca Spencer, United Kingdom
With the speed the weather and light changes here in the UK I am a fan of using auto white balance on my D700 when I am shooting outside. Auto wb works great most of the time and is an easy fix in Lightroom on the few occasions it needs a slight tweak.



ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoParikha Mehta, Pennsylvania
I usually use Kelvin. I love what my ExpoDisc can do, but, with wriggly little ones, I usually can’t grab it fast enough without missing the moment.




ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoKrista Campbell, Arkansas
I have used both custom white balance using a grey card and also shooting in Kelvin in camera. I’ve found that shooting in AWB is the easiest for me! I always shoot in RAW and then I open every image in Adobe Camera Raw. I adjust the temperature as needed and find that most of my images need to be warmed up slightly. I do this by moving my temperature slider to the right and most of the time my temperature is usually between 4800-5100.


ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photoElena Blair, Washington
I use Kelvin WB. I always start at 5500 and go up from there. My camera seems to be a bit on the cool side so I usually have to warm up in post, but I do that in batches of images with the same lighting. I find it so easy to fix in ACR that I have never gone with custom WB. Kelvin keeps it simple and consistent, in my opinion.



Thanks to our CMpros for sharing with us!  Have a question of your own for our CMpros?  Make sure to check out our “Ask the Pros” section of the CM photography forum!

Read all ‘ask a cmpro’ articles.

sponsored giveaway!

Winner Update – Congratulations to Carey who said, “I use auto and try to correct levels in LR and/or photoshop later. I’d love an expo disc to make my life easier.”  I will contact you shortly about claiming your new ExpoDisc!

Thank you to today’s sponsor, ExpoImaging, the maker of the beloved ExpoDisc!  Today, they are giving away a 77mm ExpoDisc NEUTRAL to one random reader.  In order to enter, just share this post with your friends on facebook, twitter and/or pinterest and then come back here and tell us where you shared it at and how you currently set your white balance.  We’ll randomly draw a winner next Tuesday, December 4, 2012 and announce it here so make sure and come back to check in!

ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance photo

Do you need an ExpoDisc now?  They are generously offering a discount for everyone!  Use the code EDmom2012  (case sensitive) to receive a 20% discount off an ExpoDisc (Excludes Bundles. Cannot be combined with other discounts.)  Hurry though because the discount expires December 15th, 2012.


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151 Responses to “ask a cmpro | how do you set your white balance”

  1. Janecke Santoro
    Nov 27 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Shared on Facebook. I use WB presets most of the time, but am starting to experiment with Kelvin.

  2. Jeanine
    Nov 27 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    I shared on Twitter. I am fairly new to photography, and still learning. I use both manual and automatic settings on my camera, but I am intrigued by the Expodisc.

  3. Nicole Lattanzi
    Nov 27 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    shared on facebook! Right now I use Kelvin to set white balance, but I have been wanting to try the expodisc!

  4. Nov 27 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    Shared on FB!

    I used to use AWB.. but I’ve been trying out Kelvin and really like it!

  5. Brandi
    Nov 27 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Shared on Facebook ( I use WB presets, but I really want to switch to Expodisc!

  6. Nov 27 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    I shared on FB. I’ve been using presets, but I’m googling Kelvin and Expodisc right now!!

  7. Jamie
    Nov 27 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    Pinned to Pinterest! I currently go back and forth between preset and auto in my D90. Seems like auto yields better results. I’ve started researching Kelvin, but would love the ease of an Expodisc!

  8. Jessica B
    Nov 27 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    GREAT article! Pinned to Pinterest (

    I have been learning Kelvin, but I do struggle when chasing little ones around and trying to adjust as the lighting changes! I’ve been eyeing the expodisc for a while, and after seeing Sara Seeton’s recent forum post about its greatness, I’m even more anxious to have one for myself!!

  9. Nov 27 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    I shared on Twitter @JeffersMarilyn
    I currently use a CustomWB with a Grey Card to set my white balance.

  10. Nov 27 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Pinned it! I currently use Kelvin or a grey card to set custom WB. Would love to give ExpoDisc a go!

  11. Nov 28 2012 at 12:35 am #

    Ohh I would so love to win an expo disk! Thanks for the chance! I currently use Kelvin. Shared on FB.

  12. Nov 28 2012 at 12:49 am #

    Shared on twitter!

  13. sina
    Nov 28 2012 at 1:52 am #

    i shared on twitter.

    i use awb, but im starting to learn kelvin and am tempted to get an expodisc!

  14. Sita
    Nov 28 2012 at 3:11 am #

    I pinned on Pinterest and shared on FB. I use AWB, would love an ExpoDisc!

  15. Nov 28 2012 at 8:41 am #

    I posted this to my facebook page under my name kerrie monti.I use auto wb. I want to learn more about how to set my wb. Sometimes I will set it by one of the pre set settings on my camera.

  16. Trace
    Nov 28 2012 at 9:53 am #

    I shared on my facebook page. I use AWB and have been known to use the presets. I’m finally enjoying CWB. I have set my CWB using my grey card and if I don’t have that handy then I use the toilet paper trick. I am interested in learning how to use Kelvin and I’ve heard great things about the Expodisc.

  17. Nov 28 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I shared on my FB and currently am trying out Kelvin. Thanks!

  18. Vanessa Ly
    Nov 28 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Shared on facebook…currently using a gray card.

  19. Nov 28 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Shared on Facebook. I use Kelvin currently. Would love to give ExpoDisc a try!

  20. Jaya
    Nov 28 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Pinned it on Pinterest.

    I usually use AWB, but I want to try an expo disc!

  21. Connie
    Nov 28 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I shared on facebook. I just started using Kelvin, and love it! Would love to give Expodisc a shot!

  22. Janel
    Nov 28 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Shared on facebook
    I currently have been using kelvin to set my WB.

  23. Ellen
    Nov 28 2012 at 7:07 pm # I tweeted! :)

  24. Kerry
    Nov 28 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Pinned on Pinterest I currently use AWB and adjust in Lightroom if needed.

  25. Carla
    Nov 29 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I shared on FB (Carla Duncan) and Pinned it as well. Right now I use CWB with my grey card :)

  26. Nov 29 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Shared!! I use auto WB at the moment. I bought a cheapo WB filter but have yet to play with it. I’ll sometimes experiment with Kelvin, but haven’t taken the time to REALLY learn it.

  27. Nov 29 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Pinned on Pinterest. I use kelvin but have been wanting to try an expo disk. I’ve really had succes with kelvin and rarely have to adjust pp.

  28. Jen
    Nov 29 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Thanks for the info, ladies! I would love to have the ExpoDisk. I tweeted as @madsenspace.

  29. Nov 29 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Shared on FB! I’ve been using the WB presets, just started learning Kelvin, and have been coveting an Expodisc!

  30. Mara Vaughan
    Nov 29 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    I pinned this article to Pinterest! I use Kelvin white balance and then do a quick tweak in ACR but am tempted by all these rave reviews of the Expodisc!

  31. Nov 30 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Not sure if a CMPro can enter, but just in case, I would love a chance to win an expodisc to try it out. It’s intriguing. Shared on my fb page.

  32. Heidi G
    Nov 30 2012 at 8:12 am #

    I pinned on Pinterest. I’ve been using Kelvin to set WB.

  33. Megan
    Nov 30 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    I pinned here:

    I use AWB. I do notice some issues but honestly, I think I need to get more skilled at using lighting. I would love the chance to get a little help! My kids are so pale and any white balance issue really shows on their skin.

  34. Kelly
    Nov 30 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    Shared on Pinterest. Right now I’m an automatic white balance kind of girl :)

  35. Maria
    Dec 01 2012 at 12:57 am #

    Shared on twitter @mprussell. Right now I mostly use awb and occasionally kelvin.

  36. Heather
    Dec 01 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Shared on Pinterest: I currently use AWB and fix any problems in PP.

  37. Phani Morgan
    Dec 01 2012 at 3:46 am #

    Happy Holidays! I shared on Pinterest: I’m still trying to decide on which is the best method; Preset Settings or Kelvin. I vacillate between both.

  38. Melinda T
    Dec 01 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    I currently use auto for white balance.

  39. Melinda T
    Dec 01 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    I shared on twitter.

  40. Melinda T
    Dec 01 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    I pinned.

  41. msn
    Dec 01 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Shared on Pinterest and Twitter.
    I really struggle with WB. Sometimes I go custom from my grey card, but am trying to sort out Kelvin, as well. It is a terribly weak link in my progress, to be honest. Thanks to ExpoDisc for the drawing. People seem to really love their ExpoDiscs, so here’s hoping!

  42. Caroline Gilreath
    Dec 02 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Shared on Facebook! Usually use auto but have been considering the expo disc. Would love to try it out . Thanks for a great article.

  43. Dec 02 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Pinned it! Awesome opportunity :)

  44. Amy Forehand
    Dec 02 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Pinned it. Would love to win since I am a beginning photographer and just use auto wb now

  45. Hannah
    Dec 02 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Shared on pinterest! I usually use on the preset wb on my camera but am hoping to get an expodisc soon!

  46. Clarissa
    Dec 03 2012 at 9:49 am #

    I shared on Pitnerest. I usually use the wb presets on my camera. I am currently working on improving my white balance, it has been a struggle.

  47. Kristin Carpenter
    Dec 03 2012 at 11:52 am #

    I shared on Pinterest! I NEED this expodisc SO bad! Please, please, please pick me!! I’m currently using a printed grey card and it’s just not cutting it.

  48. Dec 03 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    I shared on Twitter @Reltubl. I currently set my white balance using Kelvin.

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