What is White Balance? You may not have heard this term before, but it pops up from time to time in your pictures whether it's your Smartphone or the most professional of camera systems. Here are a few points to ponder:

  • Have you ever taken a picture indoors without a flash and it looks too yellow?

  • What about taking a picture outside on a cloudy day and it's too blue?

  • If you took a picture in this classroom right now without a flash, it may come out too blue, green, or red.. why do you think it would?

These scenarios occur because your white balance wasn't properly set or because you didn't use a flash. An on-camera flash is balanced to white, so it casts no strange color, but the existing or "ambient" light in a room has color to it, causing you to adjust your settings. Here is the "technical definition":

White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo.  Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.  Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, however digital cameras often have great difficulty with auto white balance (AWB).


An incorrect WB can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts, which are unrealistic and particularly damaging to portraits.  Performing WB in traditional film photography requires attaching a different cast-removing filter for each lighting condition, whereas with digital this is no longer required. Understanding digital white balance can help you avoid color casts created by your camera's AWB, thereby improving your photos under a wider range of lighting conditions. 

In Photography, color temperature is measured in Kelvin degrees, similar to a thermometer temperature

S8 - DAY ONE - Photography - Understanding White Balance


Many cameras and Smartphones use symbols to describe the type of White Balance setting you should switch to for the proper correction. 

Additional Resources



S8 - DAY TWO - Photography - RAW Format

Shooting RAW is a term widely used by professional photographers. Throughout the year, we learn about and use many types of formats that are required by industry. Many of the files are described by the extension used at the end of the filename, for example "smartphone.jpg" the ".jpg" extension stands for "Joint Photographic Expert Group", which is the group responsible for creating this format. Almost all low and mid-level point and shoot cameras and Smartphones use this format and it generally works really well. As Photographers though, we have to take it to the next level and shoot RAW format.

Shooting in a RAW format is just that, a raw, uncompressed, and untouched image where the computer is told to make no corrections to improve it. "Why would anyone want to do that?" you're asking? Because pro's like to do their own corrections based on what they know about photography like lighting, white and color balance, shadow and detail, etc. People that just want to take pics and don't know anything about photography use JPEG, which is a format that does all the work for you. It color corrects, compresses, sharpens and puts in a format thats smaller, easier to use, and can be sent over computer networks.

As a photographer you should always aim to “get it right in camera.” As a self-taught photographer I know that this can be difficult at first. This is why shooting in Raw is essential.

You get a second chance to get it right—first chance when you take the picture; second chance when you edit the picture inside the Raw converter.


Additional Resources



JPEG vs. RAW Article

What is RAW?

Working with RAW Files


S8 - DAY THREE - Photography - Studio Equipment

—There are really just two main types... Continuous and Strobe. They each have their pros and cons.


—Continuous lights- sometimes called hot lights, are a "what you see is what you get" type of lighting. However, they live up to their name as they have to be very bright and get very hot. Your subject can become uncomfortable. Also, your subject must remain still or there can be blurry images as a result. It's called continuous because the lights stay on the whole time.


You usually have to mount the camera on a tripod. These lights are usually used for commercial product type photography and almost exclusively in Video. With the emergence of CFL, or Compact Fluorescent Lighting, reduced energy bulbs, the lights don’t have to be “Hot” anymore. CFL are higher efficiency and run cooler. They are also color balanced, which means the bulbs are set to a particular white balance to remove the color cast from other types of lighting.


Within the last few years, LED, or Light Emitting Diode lighting is becoming increasingly popular as the price continues to drop. LED lighting is a form of Continuous lighting that doesn't require the use of a glass bulb like CFL. This is a great choice for Videographers and Photographers that setup at multiple locations where lights can't be knocked over and bulbs get broken. LED is also more compact and a typical LED light is the size of an eraser tip. In the image below on the right, many individual LED's are used to create one large panel. Also, these lights give off very little heat so no more sweaty models or hot shooting setups, which comes in handy when shooting ice cream.






Strobe lighting is simply a very powerful flash. There is no constant heat from the lights. If your model moves it will not cause blur as the strobe will freeze the movement. Also, you can handhold the camera. —Strobes however, do not give you an EXACT preview of how your final lighting will look on your subject, but the modeling light function will be very close. Strobes are most often used with people photography.


One of the many advantages of using strobes is all of the available accessories to create a variety of lighting techniques and effects.There are hundreds of modifiers for the lights such as umbrellas and soft-boxes and grids and snoots and on and on, but there are still just two basic lighting methods. These add-ons control and modify the light to suit the needs of the photographer and the type of work they’re shooting. Soft-boxes are used to soften the light which is very useful for portrait photography. Snoots and barn doors aim and concentrate the light coming off the light head.



How to choose the best type of lighting

—Portraiture- You can use continuous lighting or strobe, but strobe is usually the best choice since it doesn’t get hot and make the model uncomfortable. Also, you can take pictures much quicker and at higher shutter speeds. This is especially useful when photographing children.


—When photographing people, there are a variety of different ways to light your photograph. Light can be used to flatter and soften the subject, or you can use hard light to enhance facial features.

—You can also use lighting to create the mood of the image. It can be lit in a dramatic fashion with high contrast, and you can use very little light to show sorrow or intimacy. It’s important to know which type of lighting to use to achieve these effects. Continuous light is preferred for darker and images that portray strong emotion. Strobe is used for traditional portraits and fashion.

—Remember, these are suggestions to get you started. Every situation is different. Planning is everything!

—Commercial or product- Over the last few years, continuous lighting has become the preferred method of lighting for small to medium product photography because it is more economical than strobe. A lot of small products posted to the web are shot with this type of lighting. For larger products such as furniture, appliances and machinery, strobe provides the necessary power needed for proper exposure.

Additional Resources




—A lighting ratio is simply the difference in light level between the key (main) light and the fill light. Lighting ratios really only take into account two lights: the key light and the fill light. Any other lights you use in the image are simply accent lights that aren’t taken into account. A third light that is used in portraiture is the backlight or hair light that is used to separate the subject from the background.


—You start by determining the output of your main and fill lights individually. The best way to do this is to set up your lights and take a meter reading. Block one of the lights. I like to use the black side of a light disc, so that you're only metering the unblocked light. Then do the same thing with the first light. What is the ratio? In a nutshell, the ratio is the difference between the main light and the fill. If your main light were twice as bright as your fill, the ratio would be 2:1. Thinking about exposure factors, a factor of 2 is equal to one stop of exposure, and if you increase your exposure by one stop, you are allowing in twice the amount of light. Therefore, a 2:1 ratio would mean that there is a one-stop difference between the lights. A 3:1 ratio would be a stop and a half difference, and 4:1 would be a two-stop difference.

In order to get the proper exposure settings (f-stop and shutter speed) to get your lighting ratio, you'll need to use a Light Meter

Additional Resources



S8 - DAY FOUR - Photography - Portrait Lighting 1


S8 - DAY FIVE - Photography - Portrait Lighting 2



S8 - DAY SIX - Photography - Posing Models



Classroom Zoom Hours - 1PM to 1:30 PM - Monday - Thursday


Meeting ID: 966 9441 5843 - Passcode: Viscom


Office Zoom Hours - 2PM to 2:30 PM - Monday - Thursday


Meeting ID: 977 4308 8893 - Passcode: Viscom


Students must be prepared to make a major commitment. It is our assumption that students entering the program are here to lay a foundation for a career in a design field and will be required to meet rigorous and stringent standards. Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, are required as is the ability to read and analyze. Serious students will find that the program will provide them with an excellent opportunity to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the job market or advance in education. _Most of the students graduating from the program _continue their education.


Steve Bross

Commercial Art Instructor



Central Montco Technical High School

821 Plymouth Road

Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462



Web Site Built By The CTE Objective