Photography Guide for Beginners – Chapter 5
White balance is an aspect of photography that most owners of digital cameras tend to ignore. However, if you were trying to improve your photography skills, it would be worth knowing about this aspect of photography.
The main reason for white balance is in order to reproduce colors as accurately as possible. If you have been taking photos for a while, you may have noticed that images have a hue to them that is not present in the real world. The reason for this is that different light sources have a different color temperature. For instance, fluorescent tubes have a blue tinge to them.
The range of color temperatures is from the cool light of the blue sky to the warm light of a candle. The main reason we do not normally notice this is that our eyes are able to adjust automatically. Thus, unless the color temperature is extreme, a white sheet will still appear white. However, a camera does not have the ability to make this adjustment. That is why you will need to tweak the white balance to avoid any funny tinge on your images. Thus for cool lights, you want the camera to warm things up and in warm light, you want things to cool down.
Adjust the White Balance
All cameras have their unique ways for adjusting white balance. Thus, you will need to study the manual of your camera to understand how to make the changes. However, most cameras have auto and semi-auto modes to help you with the adjustments.
The White Balance Settings
These are the most common preset white balance settings found on most cameras:
Auto – the camera makes the best guess on what the white balance should be. IT will work well most of the time unless when using tricky lighting.
Tungsten – It is used when shooting indoors with incandescent lighting. This setting helps to cool down the colors in the photo.
Fluorescent – this mode is used to compensate for the cool light produced by fluorescent tubes. It aims to warm up the shot.
Daylight – This setting is for when taking photos in sunlight.
Cloudy – it is used to warm the colors up.
Flash – Flash from the camera has cool light. Thus, this mode help to warm things up a bit.
Shade – the light in shades is usually quite cool. Thus, this mode will warm up the colors.
Adjusting White Balance Manually
You can get an accurate result using the preset settings above most of the time. However, you can still manually adjust the setting in some DSLR cameras.
In essence, all you do is tell your camera what white is in a shot so that it can use that as the reference point. You can achieve this by purchasing a white card designed for this purpose. Besides that, you can look for a material of the right color to achieve this effect.
Manual adjustment is not hard to achieve once you find the place in your camera settings where you can do it.
Summary of White Balance
Simply understanding the concept of white balance is usually enough for most photographers. The most important thing to remember is when you need to adjust white balance. It can be done post processing or before taking the image. Once you become comfortable with getting the right white balance, you can begin to use it creatively in pictures. Sometimes, warming up or cooling down the image can affect the entire feel of the scene.