White Balance in Photography – Tips For Beginners

What is White Balance in  photography?

Have you noticed photographs taken in different lights with your digital camera sometimes produces images with an yellowish or bluish tinge to it ?  It can look really unpleasant and unappealing at times as they don’t show accurate colors.The difference in colors of the image or photograph is caused  due to the different sources  of lights to which the subject is exposed or cast to . For example ,tungsten lights can cast yellowish tinge and fluorescent lights can cast  bluish tinge to the photos. Luckily, this can be fixed and the solution to this problem is by setting the right White Balance (WB).If White balance setting in the camera is set to the right option , you can get the exact or true color of the image being shot.  So for instance , if it is an overcast or cloudy day ,you can  set the white balance to “cloudy” which lets the camera know that  it is a cloudy day and to  produce the final image  by warming the lights up and this helps to get a perfect photograph.

By default the WB is set to auto mode (AWB) where the camera automatically determines the colors and which works most of the times as well. This is best for beginners who have just started playing around with the camera.As you explore further, you can choose to change the settings to preset values or custom (manual) as explained below:

Preset White Balance  settings :

Navigate to any manual or semi-automatic mode like M,Av,Tv or P if using Canon and the AWB option. Once you select this, you have many options to choose from as described below:

  • AWB (Auto) – This is the basic automatic mode and usually works in most  situations .This can be used by beginners without having to worrying to change the white balance every time they shoot.
  • Tungsten Light – This is good for shooting indoors when you have  bulb  lighting .This helps to cool down the  yellowish colors produced by the Tungsten light
  • White Fluorescent Light – This will convert the bluish tinge and warm up the  shots when there is fluorescent light.
  • Daylight – This is used when shooting outdoors and is usually normally used.It lets the camera that you are shooting in day light .
  • Cloudy –This setting warms  up the light more than the daylight mode as there is not enough light due to being cloudy.
  • Flash – The cool light of the Flash is warmed up when flash is used.
  • Shade – Shade usually has a cooler color  and this setting warms up the shot when shooting in a shady place.
  • Custom – This is  set by manually by letting the camera know what white color looks like and using it as a reference for deciding the other colors.This is explained below in the manual mode below.

Manual mode White Balance

Here we  tell the camera what white color should looks like . This is achieved by taking a shot of a white or grey card(see third picture below) outside in day light and using the image as reference in the setting of custom balance .This is done so the camera has  a reference point for deciding how other colors in the photograph should look . So once this is set ,you can shoot and get true colors of the image .

From any manual or semi automatic mode navigate to AWB as in picture one , selecting that will give you options like cloudy, shade, tungsten, daylight,fluorescent or custom to choose from

From Menu option choose custom white balance and choose a photo of the empty gray photo below which tells the camera how it should see gray and white color and use as a reference to determine other colors irrespective of the lights.

Plain gray photo or white photo can be used to set the custom white balance as explained in the above picture

Hope you enjoyed this post and will try clicking by setting the AWB options and notice the differences.If you have any tips for white balance for beginners please do share in the comments below.
You may also find the below links with topics on white balance very useful:

Demystifying White Balance

Thank you!
Disclaimer: I am not a photography tutor or professional .This is only an effort to share the lessons and tips I learnt , refresh the concepts from the class I attended and compile my experiences using the digital camera .

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  • iScriblr
    March 20, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Wow, this is super informative! I am still a novice when it comes to picture technicalities! 🙂

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and so glad it is useful .I am still learning with every click myself . Taking a basic workshop helped with understanding some of the basic technicalities although there’s so much more to learn and explore.

      • iScriblr
        March 20, 2018 at 1:25 pm

        That’s great! A basic photography workshop sounds so much fun. I would love to join one too. (Lemme look around for it!) – I’m sure it must be really informative! 😉 🙂

  • ffflavours
    March 20, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Useful tips for beginners like me 🙂

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you so much, so glad to hear that! happy clicking:)

  • Megala
    March 20, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Learning a lot here, thanks !

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Thank you so much Megala, am glad it helps !

  • raynotbradbury
    March 20, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I know nothing about it…but great detailed post 🙂 👏 & for ex I like the last photo (with the flowers), looks nice 🙂

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks for the comment Ray. I’m glad you liked the photo the natural colors always are pleasing indeed!

  • Ramyarecipes
    March 20, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Informative post and pic is so natural and beautiful too

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Thank you Ramya glad you loved this picture, much appreciated!

  • Lace n Plaid
    March 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks so much. I am still struggling and this post is very helpful.

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      I am so happy to hear that it is useful .Thank you so much!

  • Divya Deepak Rao
    March 20, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    It’s so nice that you’ve compiled all the essentials of White Balance Nisha. The picture of the hibiscus is simply gorgeous!

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks a lot Divya! I’m so glad you liked the capture of the hibiscus 🌺

  • Just Me!
    March 20, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for this, very informative!

    • InspiresN
      March 20, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      I’m happy to hear it is informative and useful .Thanks for stopping by!

  • SaRitzy
    March 21, 2018 at 7:44 am

    These are some lovely tips!

    • InspiresN
      March 21, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Thank you so much, glad you love these tips!

  • The Karavali Wok
    March 22, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for the informative post !!

    • InspiresN
      March 22, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      It’s a pleasure to share and glad to hear that! Thank you!

  • jyo
    March 23, 2018 at 12:48 am

    Very educative post💯💯

    • InspiresN
      March 23, 2018 at 6:43 am

      Thanks 🙏 Jyo!

  • indianeskitchen
    April 6, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    How beautiful! Love the little bug too….lol

    • InspiresN
      April 6, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you so much!

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