Understanding White Balance

Kirra Beach Rocks

Kirra Beach Rocks

Kirra Beach Rocks

Kirra Beach Rocks

Kirra Beach Rocks

Understanding White Balance

White balance is the way we gauge and settle on the colour of a photograph. White balance means the “all over” colour tone itself. Colour tone is the broad colour that’s cast right over the whole photograph. When you take a photo at home, without flash, you will sometimes see a blue colour tone spread over the image. This is the white balance.

Getting true white balance is one of the most vital elements of taking pictures. Anytime you have the right white balance you will observe that colours look real. Skin tones look real also, instead of appearing plastic or too yellow. Precise white balance becomes a very significant element of portrait photography for this reason.

How do we find the most accurate white balance we can? First we need to realize that there is no one set white balance for each situation. Every white balance mode on your camera, like Tungsten for instance, is not right for every occasion. Tungsten makes your photos look very blue if they are shot in standard lighting. When you photograph a subject that is below yellow lights it can make your scene appear too yellow. Photographing in Tungsten will take away the over abundance of yellow and help take your image back to a usual colour tone again.

Auto white balance is the general selection for most newbie photography fans. This is fine as long as you fine-tune your white balance in Photoshop or Lightroom afterward. You will see that if you take pictures in auto white balance regularly, your photography just won’t look very good. You will find that your shots just don’t replicate the correct colours that you see with your naked eye.

Shade and cloudy white balance are two good settings to use if you want to “warm up” your images. They offer a warm colour cast like yellow, to overlay onto your images. This can be a perfect shooting mode especially at sundown or dawn. Shade and cloudy white balance can emphasise the vitality in your warmer colours. This allows sunsets and sunrises to appear energetic. This is a well suited option for sunsets.

Shade and cloudy white balance settings are generally not used for portraits. The last thing we wish for in our wedding pictures is a yellow hue over a photograph of the happy couple. Tungsten is not correct either. We unquestionably do not like the bride and groom appearing too blue. Auto white balance doesn’t always work out for portraits because of the way the digital camera is designed. The slr camera you own does not always comprehend what colours should be represented accurately. When you choose auto white balance you offer the digital camera free reign to do as it wants. This doesn’t work when you want true to life vibrancy.

True to life colour relies upon on “training” the camera to understand colour. This is where custom white balance is preferable. When you level a grey card in front of the digital camera and set your custom white balance to it, it then understands what’s happening. It then sets all colour on both sides of that grey tone. It’s quite complicated how it does this. As a photographer all you need to know is that colour needs to be authentic, and a grey card is the method to do it.

Basically alter your white balance mode to custom. Then shoot a grey card with the correct exposure. Then it’s central to “set” the custom white balance from that photo. You will observe that for that particular photo session, your colours appear real and natural. You’ll be able to see finer colours like light pink, magenta and lemon yellow as they really are.

White balance is one of the most important things to producing a striking photograph. If you keep to these straightforward actions, no longer will you feel confused about why you are not achieving precise colour. It will truly change the way you look at photography forever.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (3)

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  1. Marceli says:

    Great photo essay to me the story is the dog. Seeing him bound through the frost and imngiag him watching the flocks of geese is really fun. I especially like the shot of him standing a few feet into the water watching the fisherman. I only wish the photos were larger when I clicked on them I want to see the details up close. Nice work Todd.

  2. Laura says:

    Hi Amy,
    Great article on the imfamous “white balance”. I am glad you made this clear as to what white balance is. It simplified this mystery for me.I do shoot in auto white balance most of the time, I did however get the courage up to try different settings in different conditions.(Just to see what would happen)I have noticed… some cameras come with more white balance presets, but to get that you got to spend a little more on the camera and I found differernt makers have different settings for this too. This was a big help out. Thanks. I really learn alot from you. I am glad you do what you do.

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