What is White Balance in photography?
Have you noticed photographs taken in different lights with your digital camera sometimes produce images with a 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 a yellowish tinge and fluorescent lights can cast a 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 the 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 time 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 worry 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 daylight.
- 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 the 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 look like. This is achieved by taking a shot of a white or grey card(see the third picture below) outside in daylight and using the image as a 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 the true colors of the image.
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:
Disclaimer: I am not a photography tutor or professional. This is only an effort to share the lessons and tips I learned, refresh the concepts from the class I attended, and compile my experiences using the digital camera.