Understanding the White Balance of the Digital Camera

white-balance-settingsWhen I was a new user of the digital camera I sailed merrily along, not giving much thought to white balance. My first digital camera, a point and shoot Canon A-310, was excellent for color. An awkward sort of change came when that camera was dropped in the waters of a creek crossing. The camera was left damaged, with only the memory card untouched. My second digital, also a point and shoot model, was a borrowed Sony cyber-shot. This camera was new to me and I didn’t know it had no white balance mode. It had most of the same mode settings otherwise. It also had a snow mode, which I loved. Perhaps there would be no more bluish overtones?

I discovered the difference of not having a white balance mode the day I had a bad photo shoot. I took off-white pictures! I took many poses of my cute sisters dressed in their matching black and white attire. Little did I know that when I clicked so many times I disturbed the white balance, only the first few pictures turned-out. Being very disappointed, I wanted to learn how to take the best color photos. I had to understand the white balance of digital cameras, as this was the key to good color photos.

The day I took the pictures of my sisters it was sunny with overcast periods, the background was not the best, either. To many times I had asked my models to pose in different positions. The models became impatient and smiles were fading. I had assumed that changing between the cloudy mode and the sunny mode, the images would be color balanced. How can you tell if the image is off-white? When the image is off-white it will be dull looking. I also know because those peculiar shots were refused by an online photo stock company as having an off-white balance. This is harder to tell on your little digital LCD screen, where it is easier to see on your computer screen. This is why it is always best to check your white balance before hand.

I also learned that different light sources have varying color temperatures, including neutral. The balance is a reference point in which your camera determines the true color white. The camera has a harder time judging true white, a harder time than our eyes do. The camera will calculate what it is told: you need to tell the camera how to handle the lighting condition. Film photographers use filters and lens, with digital cameras you use white balancing.

One has to understand white balance if you want to program your camera. Learn enough about balancing when your camera has no white balance mode. I had looked-up a Kelvin color chart spectrum chart. 5000 K (K for Kelvin) is neutral light. Our automatic white balance mode is set-up using a neutral light measurement. To set a balance you can take a picture of a non-glossy white surface, but first place it where it is not in shadow. I use a small to medium piece of cut cardboard and I carry it with me. You can also use a white T-shirt surface, or the underside of a coffee container lid, if available. It would be a good investment to buy the credit card size white or grey card. They are professionally made for this so there is more chance it is correct.

White color balance is so important for good color. I check my white balance often now. It’s good thing we can experiment with the digital camera. We can shoot many frames as they can be deleted or saved at no cost. The saved images can be further edited in a photo editor computer program. In an editor program, a color balancing tool can take away the wrong color cast. For regular photography the automatic white balance and other mode settings work-out just fine. It is good to have an understanding of the white balance so you can take the best color photographs.

I am a young grandma, keeping-up and keeping fit. A self starter and entrepreneur.

Jessie Eldora Robertson – freelance photographer and writer – http://www.gotmydigital.com

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