Composition TIPS - TECHNIQUES - ADVICE

White Balance – Everything You Need to Know About It

For the record, how many of you actually know what white balance is? Do you know how it affects the overall quality of your photos? Well, the truth is, a lot of people don’t really understand what it is so they just leave their digital camera settings to Automatic White Balance (AWB). Is this a good thing or a bad thing? You’ll see after reading this article!

I wonder how many people actually know what white balance is? …Or know how it affects the overall quality of your photos? Well, the truth is, a lot of people don’t really understand what it is so they just leave their digital camera settings to Automatic White Balance (AWB). Is this a good thing or a bad thing? You’ll see after reading this article!

White Balance 101 – Understanding What It’s All About

What is white balance? How can you use the proper white balance settings to get great looking photos every time you point and shoot your digital camera?

Well, to keep things simple (as they should be!), white balance is an adjustment that enables you to get the colors of your subject as accurate as they can possibly be. You may have noticed that not all your shots come out right every time. How many times did your shots come out with an ugly yellowish, bluish or greenish cast to them? Haven’t you given any thoughts as to why these things happen? Well, you need to know that the color temperature of the light source has everything to do with it.

Different light sources have different “temperatures” – ranging from very cool blue to very warm light.

  • Fluorescent lights tend to cast off a greenish or bluish color.
  • Tungsten lighting emits a yellowish hue.
  • Street lights give off an orange cast.

The human eye doesn’t notice these subtle differences since it automatically adjusts to compensate for its surroundings. However, your digital camera doesn’t have this ability so you should make the necessary adjustments for them. And the solution lies in adjusting the white balance settings of your SLR.

White Balance Settings – the Presets

By changing your camera’s white balance setting, you are, in fact, telling it to apply the most appropriate correction filter that will enhance the colors in your photos. So, if you are shooting under cool light, your camera will use a red filter to balance the naturally bluish tone, and vice versa.

Most digital cameras have preset white balance settings. This includes:

  • Automatic White Balance (AWB) – usually the default setting in most SLRs. If you’re using AWB, your camera will try to guess what the most appropriate setting is for each and every shot you take. The problem is it doesn’t always come out right. However, you can safely use this setting in situations when you’re not sure which white balance setting to choose.
  • Daylight – best used when shooting in broad daylight as well as when shooting at night. This setting captures all the colors as accurately as your DSLR possibly can.
  • Tungsten or incandescent – best used when shooting indoors, especially when you are using 60 watt light bulbs as your light source.
  • Fluorescent – if you’re getting pictures that are quite too green, this is the definitely best setting to use.
  • Shade – perfect for shoots made on cloudy or partly cloudy days, or for shooting in backlight. This setting will add a yellowish tinge to accentuate the colors in your photos.
  • Flash – can be used to warm up your shots a little.

Different cameras may have a different way of changing the presets so you will need to read your manual to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

By knowing what presets to use under different lighting conditions, you can be sure that you’ll be taking great photos all the time. They are so simple to use that once you’ve familiarized yourself with their symbols, you can easily get the effects you want every time you point and shoot your digital camera.

You can also use these presets in more creative ways. Try shooting a particular subject using different presets to see what you’ll come up with. It will be a pleasant surprise!

Hope this has been helpful,

Ray Baker