White balance (WB) is really important for accurate re-production of colors in a photo. If WB settings are not properly tuned in your digital camera, you may find your final shot to be colored slightly in hues of blue, orange or yellow. Not a good thing.
In this article, we’ll look at 3 important aspects of white balance you need to understand in order to make better use of it in your photography.
1. What is White Balance?
Let’s start with the definition of white balance. If you’ve taken photos on your camera, you’ll notice that sometimes the pictures come out with a hue of colors – usually blue, or yellow. This is particularly the case when photographing things indoors. For human beings, our eyes are able to adjust to this effect. However, cameras don’t have that eye and can’t recognize and adjust accordingly.
Hence, many digital cameras come with WB settings – tungsten, fluorescent and so forth – to offset the color hues and make the photo colors look correct. These usually come in preset modes. You can also manually adjust WB settings if you wish.
2. Preset WB Settings
Let’s look at some of the standard WB settings used in digital cameras. The default WB setting used is the Auto mode. In this mode, the camera will auto adjust for any color hue that is introduced into the photo. It may not always work but it’s a good “fire-and-forget” mode which does everything for you.
Another common setting is that of a “Sunset mode”. If you’re bathed in the light of dusk, when taking a photo, the colors may look too yellowish. The “Sunset mode” WB setting offsets this so that the color is re-produced accurately in the final shot.
The ” Tungsten mode” is also used when you’re under tungsten light bulbs. If your subject looks like he or she is too illuminated by light bulbs, switch on the “Tungsten mode” in your WB settings to calibrate the camera.
Other modes include the “Flash mode” which corrects for the harshness of flash indoors, as well as “Cloudy mode” – which compensate for dark, cloudy sky colors which are cast over your subject(s).
3. Manual WB Adjustment
If you’re a more advanced user, you should consider doing the WB calibration manually. These kind of settings are usually available on higher end cameras like digital SLRs. Here’s what I typically do. I hold up a piece of thick white paper and point the camera at it. This allows the camera to know what “white” really is, then I base the WB settings against that. Whenever I do this, I find I hardly run into any coloration issues in my final pictures. Try it and see how it works for you.
In summary, white balance is an important but often ignored aspect of photography. All photographers, novice or expert, should apply WB concepts in their photography so as to snap better photos. Now that you understand what WB is, make sure you adjust those settings before you run out and take photos. With practice, you’ll be able to calibrate your camera to the right level and offset any coloration issues in your photos. Good luck!
About the Author:
Gary Hendricks runs a hobby site on digital photography. Visit his website at Basic-Digital-Photography.com for tips and tricks on buying digital cameras, as well as shooting great photos.
Helpful video on Understanding White Balance:
The video discusses how different sources of light affect the colors of your photographs. Mark explains color temperature and white balance, and demonstrates how you can get the most accurate color in your images.
For Further Training on Camera Settings, PictureCorrect Suggests:
Look into Extremely Essential Camera Skills; a popular instructional eBook designed to help you master your camera and become more confident in your photography. With a combination of illustrations, text, photos and video, it is valuable to both read and keep as a reference in the field.
It can be found here: Extremely Essential Camera Skills
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