Keeping Balance in Check

If you routinely black balance at the beginning of every shoot or before each white balance, you'll save time and be ready sooner for that once-in-a-lifetime shot if you restrict yourself to black balancing far less frequently, (perhaps no more than twice a year or whenever you change the batteries in your smoke alarm).

Unlike white balance--an adjustment that conforms the camera to external lighting conditions--black balance is an internal setup control that remains the same under all lighting conditions. The only reasons that this setting would drift and needs to be recalibrated are temperature extremes and age.

Subjecting the camera to arctic cold or desert heat could chill or cook capacitors and other electronic components enough to make them change value, making a recalibration of the black balance a prudent step. The same is true for the effects of time. Electronic components have been known to change value as they age, so, over time, the black balance setting could drift.

For those of you who are addicted to the joys of gaffer's tape, you'll never be far from a fix if you affix a few short strips of this sticky problem solver where they'll always be close at hand. Stick them to the ends of camera batteries, camera side panels, tripod head, and any other flat surface you can find that doesn't get too hot to touch when in use. Since big rolls of gaffer's tape are hard to carry, follow the lead of minimalist backpackers and roll your own; make a two-inch flat tab at the end of a three-foot strip of tape and then fold layer upon layer until it is as thick as a wad of cash on payday. Now drop it in your pocket or gadget bag and you'll never be without.

We'll look at some of the many uses for this magic material in the next Sharpshooters' Tips.