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Svalbard Islands – Arctic Photography With The ColorChecker Passport Photo 2


by Dave Mobbs – May 27th, 2020


By Coloratti Francesco De Marco

The purpose of my trip was to better document the Arctic landscapes of the Svalbard Islands. I thought I’d share with you my experiences of photographing in such a harsh environment and how I used the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 within my workflow.

© Francesco De Marco

© Francesco De Marco

From morning to evening, the sunlight did not rise but gave the opportunity to live in a constant sunrise, allowing me to take many photographs without using photographic filters.

Why the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 in the Arctic?

One key piece of equipment that I brought with me was the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2. So why did I bring this accessory with me? Because on snow or ice it is always very difficult to find the correct white balance. It’s also very difficult to find it when there is little light.

© Francesco De Marco

© Francesco De Marco

The only solution is therefore to rely on tools that are external to the camera, through which it is possible to measure white and store it within the camera’s white balance. In many scenes I had to measure the white balance, I could not afford to guess that my eyes were actually seeing the correct colour. In landscape photography it is very important to photograph and create natural colors.

White Balance

© Francesco De Marco

White balance

When you’re facing a truly extreme situation, you must not waste time. In fact, what can often happen is that when we are facing a particularly difficult scenario, due to the lights, the shadows and the whites, it can take a long time to find the correct white balance.

Many are wrong to use an automatic white balance. As good as the camera can be, we shouldn’t forget that the white balance does not always reproduce what we see. For this reason, using a special tool can ensure that we’re not wasting time and can find what we need immediately. For this reason, it is important to measure the white well, after obviously having chosen the composition of our photograph.

© Francesco De Marco

© Francesco De Marco

When using the Passport, first of all choose the scene you want to measure. Do an analysis of the lights and try to understand how long you have before there is a light variation. Then go to the White Balance settings on your camera and measure the white from the ColorChecker Passport.

Speed is everything in landscape photography. With the right tools, you can save a lot of time, both in the shooting phase, and in the post-production phase.


In nature photography, drones are often used to have a different point of view. They are used to take photographs away from the normal point of view and to get to points where you could not normally arrive.

On my trip to the Svalbard Islands, I only used my drone for a short time, because it was almost impossible to fly in low temperatures. Also, the batteries would only last for a very short while. But I still tried to take some photos. So, once the drone took off, I tried to make as many photographs as possible. I wasn’t thinking about the White Balance, as I really didn’t have the time due to varying light conditions. I thought that in this case I would need to make an exception to my way of working perfectly during shooting. So I took the photos with the drone, and at the same time I took a photo of the ColorChecker Passport with the camera.

Arctic landscape

© Francesco De Marco

Why did I do this?

Since I could not measure the White Balance with the drone, I chose to do it in the development phase instead. With the photograph I took with the ColorChecker Passport, once imported into Lightroom, together with the drone photos, I had the opportunity to balance the aerial photos.

In fact, by selecting the photograph with the ColorChecker and placing the WB dropper on the white I got the real white I had when shooting. I then imported the same measurement into the photographs taken with the drone.

In doing so I was able to recreate the white I really had in my scene. So, through the Passport, I was able to measure the white balance perfectly and also measure the correct exposure through gray. In short, the Passport is a trusted friend in the Arctic who helped me to better photograph each scene.

White Balance target

© Francesco De Marco

You can find out more about Francesco here – https://www.francescodemarcophotography.it


Categories: Color Balance, Color Management, Coloratti, ColorChecker Passport Photo, ColorChecker Passport Photo 2, Guest Blog, Travel Photography, White Balance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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