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Monday, July 02, 2012

QuikDisc®: White Balancing with the StarFlash®

Lighting Equipment

With so many types of lighting sources on the market today countless photographers find themselves challenged with keeping their images properly color balanced.

This lesson illustrates appropriate use and function of the QuikDisc® as a color-balancing tool with the StarFlash® lighting system. With the QuikDisc®, making those spur-of-the-moment changes to your lighting setup no longer negatively impacts the color of your final product.

(Click here to view our other white balance lessons using the StarLite® and shoemount flashes.)

(Click on any thumbnail image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  •     Color Temperature
  •     White Balancing in Camera Raw
  •     White Balancing with the StarFlash®

What is Color Temperature?

Color temperature is more or less the color of light, which is dependent on the source of the light. This is also known as the color of illumination. Our eyes can adapt to the changes of the dominant light source so that we always see the brightest tones in a scene as white.

The color of illumination is usually described as "color temperature". This is an explanation based on the actual physical temperature when a heated object gives off light. At low temperatures, the light is very red. At about 5,000 - 7,000 degrees Kelvin, the light is seen as white. As the color temperature goes higher, the light gets more blue. [figure 1]

Figure 1

Is It Magic?

It's important to realize there are several different ways to set the white balance in your camera. It is possible to change your custom white balance settings within your camera for every situation you might encounter. However, this method only works well when your lighting situations are consistent, for example your studio lighting.

We find the easiest and most efficient way to balance is to shoot utilizing the Raw file system in Photoshop. If you shoot in the Raw file format, you can make individual, non-destructive, color adjustments to your photos. You can even batch them all if your color adjustments are global, which can save considerable time.

To best use the QuikDisc®, simply place it within the frame of your shot when you’re ready to shoot. Turn the Disc so that the grey side is facing the camera. Then take one properly exposed shot. Now you can remove the QuikDisc® and continue shooting.

Once you’ve uploaded all the images to your computer, open Camera Raw in Adobe Bridge and 'Select All' of the images within that particular lighting scenario. Using the white balance color picker, click on the QuikDisc®, and POOF! All of your selected images will be properly color-balanced. [figure 2]

Figure 2

Before and After

Here are our examples of before and after this simple process. [figures 3 & 4]

Figure 3

Figure 4

This is the fastest and most accurate way to white balance your images. Now let’s see it in action!

Starflash® Setup

For the StarFlash®, we wanted to use another setup featured in the GripJaw™ lesson. So we decided to put the V-Board to the test.

We set up our first light, a 300watt StarFlash® with the included 7 inch reflector, just behind the model to his left and had it facing the camera. This didn't do anything for our lighting situation until we added the first half of our V-Board. For the first half of the V-Board, we used a Soft Gold reflector on a 39x72 aluminum frame to help warm up our image right from the start.

Adding this gave us a nice warm-toned light illuminating the front of the subject. [figures 5 & 6]

Figure 5

Figure 6

We put the second light, another 300watt StarFlash®, in the same position opposite the model. On the other side of our V-Board we used a silver reflector, again on a 39x72 frame, to create some different tones of highlights. This filled in some of the harder shadows and finished our lighting for the front of the subject. Still, something seemed to be missing. [figures 7 & 8]

Figure 7

Figure 8

Using a Small OctoDome® and a 150watt StarFlash® at half power, we placed a background light behind the subject. Doing this gave us some fun highlights and separation on the lower half of the subject, providing the missing element we wanted in the previous shot. [figures 9 & 10]

Figure 9

Figure 10

At this point during our setup, we took a single image with the QuikDisc® for our color-balancing in post production. This is how simple color balancing can be with the right tools. [figure 11]

Figure 11

The progression below shows us the results of our creative technique. It also gives us a better view of how efficiently we've used the equipment. [figure 12]

Figure 12

Final Shot

For the the final touch, we lowered the crop for a better composition in the final image. [figure 13]

Figure 13

Continuing On

As we look back, we can see why white balancing is an important part of any photographer’s toolkit. It allows us to see the correct exposure and color of our subject. That said, keep in mind that “incorrectly” color-balanced images also have their place on occasion.

Remember, forward progression is important to your growth as an artist. So make sure to keep experimenting and trying new ideas!


Written and photographed by David Cross, contributing instructor for Photoflex.com®.

Lighting Equipment

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