I have a small home studio and use 2 x 250 flash heads, and a white vinyl background.

I use a Canon 5D Mk II and generally shoot at 1/125 and f11-13.

My problem is my images all have a pink hue to them.

I can rectify this in Photoshop, but want to get it right on camera. Should I try gels? Thanks

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you elaborate a bit? What lights are you using, and do they appear to be the cause, or do you suspect something else? Does adjusting white balance help? Posting an example would be ideal! \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 18:51
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ How do you determine that the images have a color shift? Is it possible that it's actually your computer screen that shows them incorrectly? \$\endgroup\$
    – Guffa
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


No. Don't try gels.

Your camera should have a custom white balance setting. Something like this:

enter image description here

You need a 3 step process for this:

1) Take a photo of a white object using either Sun White Balance or Flash White balance (I prefer using sun). You can use a sheet of paper but as they can vary in the color you probably need a professional-grade gray card https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=gray+card to achieve a more standardized result. Cheap gray cards will give you problems, and only should be used to calculate the exposition, not the white balance.

Not cheap, but a good one is the one from Xrite. There is a color chart called Propasport that has an additional workflow to standardize your light and colors, called a profile.

enter image description here

You need to shoot that target in close range so it covers let's say 90% of the frame. Don't overexpose it too much. (If you have an incident light exposimeter use it for gray cards)

2) Choose that photo as the custom white balance on your camera settings.

enter image description here

3) Switch to Custom White balance on your camera instead of using sun or flash.

enter image description here

The target must cover almost all framing and lit by uniform light.

enter image description here

Try measuring your source light

Step 1 is the most critical. You can measure these targets I mentioned but also in some cases in the studio you can measure your source light.

If you are using, for example, a softbox you can shoot directly to it, but close the aperture diaphragm a lot so you don't burn out the photo. You need to see that photo in the middle colors. Let's say start with the minimum aperture. An f22 or f32 for example.

If the camera detects that it has zones out of range, it probably will show an error message that you can't use that image.

I'm posting a crude example here. (I choose an old softbox that is not white, but it doesn't fit my flash, I'll update it later)

enter image description here

White is not always white

I'm adding some thoughts here.

You mentioned a white vinyl background. It is important that you use a true neutral gray or true white reference as a reflective target or measure the light source as I mentioned.

Don't use your background to calibrate the white balance. Some synthetic materials have a pink or magenta color, you can think it is white but it is not. If after setting the white balance, you still see the background as pink, it is pink. So probably you need to change your background. If you use your pink background as a white reference, the product on it will have a blue tint.

Don't use a plastic white material as a reference — it is better to use paper or matte painted one.

These settings are saved as a recipe for a raw format and applied directly to the jpg. As I mentioned, you can have additional color adjustments with a color chart and a color profile for a specific lighting situation — in this case, your studio+camera.

To have even more accurate control of the color you need a workflow that includes a color target like a Macbeth chart: Do I always get the same colours when I set the white balance correctly?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that just profiling and colour balancing won't work with most low-cost strobes (or speedlights) if they're at different power levels. You'd be essentially working with mixed light; for critical colour you'd need to colour gel so that the lights match each other closely (or ND gel so they're at more-or-less the same power). It's only an issue with tabletop product photography for the most part; our eyes can tolerate, even expect, a little variation in most other scenes. You'd usually only need one colour in 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 cuts to cover the range of variation; WB will do the rest. \$\endgroup\$
    – user38275
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 5:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably it is a good idea to test the strobes separatley and compare the results using the white balance of the other head or using the other power setting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly, Rafael - and you should only have to do it once and record the results for reference. I know, for instance, that my speedlights need 1/4 cut of CTS for each stop lower in power (within "only machines can tell the difference" accuracy), so if I white balance for the strongest light and gel the weaker ones according to that 1/4-cut-per-stop difference, I'll be close enough for humans without further testing. (Colorimeters and mantis shrimp might notice, but I'm not advertising to either of them.) \$\endgroup\$
    – user38275
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 5:24

What color are your walls painted, you said you are using your home studio, right? Maybe your lights are bouncing off your walls and bringing back some color into your images. Just food for thought.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hello Skyler, and welcome to Photo SE. Your response is more of a comment than a definitive answer, which is what we are looking for on SE. Once you have enough reputation you can comment on questions and answers to seek clarification. \$\endgroup\$
    – user456
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 12:43

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