What is White Balance?

March 23, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

White Balance it can have a big impact upon the shots you take.  Still, many digital camera owners don’t understand or use it.  Here is a quick introduction to I hope you find helpful.

You  adjust white balance is to get the colors in your images as accurate as possible.

Why would you need to get the color right in your shots?

Perhaps you have noticed when examining your photos that at times images can come out with an orange, blue or yellow look to them – despite the fact that to the naked eye the scene looked quite normal. The reason is that different sources of light have a different ‘color’ (or temperature) to them. Fluorescent lighting adds a bluish cast to photos whereas tungsten (incandescent/bulbs) lights add a yellowish tinge to photos.

The range in different temperatures of light varies from the very cool light of blue sky through to the very warm light of a candle.  We don’t generally notice this difference in temperature because our eyes adjust automatically for it. So unless the temperature of the light is very extreme a white sheet of paper will generally look white to us. However a digital camera doesn’t have the smarts to make these adjustments automatically and sometimes will need us to tell it how to treat different light.

So for cooler (blue or green) light you’ll tell the camera to warm things up and in warm light you’ll tell it to cool down by adjusting white balance.

Different digital cameras have different ways of adjusting white balance so ultimately you’ll need to get out your camera’s manual out to work out the specifics of how to make changes. Alternatively, many digital cameras have presets to help you make these adjustments.

Preset White Balance Settings

Here are some of the basic White Balance settings you’ll find on most digital cameras:

  • Auto – this is where the camera makes a best guess on a shot by shot basis. You’ll find it works in many situations but it’s worth venturing out of it for trickier lighting.
  • Tungsten – this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten (incandescent) lighting (such as bulb lighting). It generally cools down the colors in photos.
  • Fluorescent – this compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.
  • Daylight/Sunny – not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly ‘normal’ white balance settings.
  • Cloudy – this setting generally warms things up a touch more than ‘daylight’ mode.
  • Flash – the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash White Balance mode you’ll find it warms up your shots a touch.
  • Shade – the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.

Manual White Balance Adjustments

In most cases you can get a pretty accurate result using the above preset white balance modes – but some digital cameras (most DSLRs and higher end point and shoots) allow for manual white balance adjustments also.  The way this is used varies a little between models but in essence what you do is to tell your camera what white looks like in a shot so that it has something as a reference point for deciding how other colors should look. You can do this by buying yourself a white (or grey) card which is specifically designed for this task – or you can find some other appropriately colored object around you to do the job.

This manual adjustment is not difficult to do once you find where to do it in the menu on your camera and it’s well worth learning how to do it.

Let me know how these tips work for you.  Until next time, keep shooting!


Comments

No comments posted.
Loading...
Subscribe
RSS
Archive
January February March April May June July (4) August (3) September (4) October (1) November (4) December
January February March (1) April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March (5) April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December