Everything You Need To Know About White Balance

People love being clicked. And a lot of photographers, amateurs as well as professionals, love clicking pictures. Every photographer starts by clicking pictures in the Auto mode and slowly moves towards the Manual mode by learning the settings of the camera and practicing to click better pictures. But a lot of photographers leave out one of the major settings of the camera and stick to its Auto mode.

That setting is the ‘White Balance‘.

What is White Balance?

White Balance is a setting on the digital camera that helps in adjusting the color temperature of any photograph, before clicking, to make the image look more natural and real. It is measured in Kelvin(symbol ‘K’) scale. It helps in giving us an image similar to what we saw through the viewfinder/display of the camera. This setting is required because a majority of light sources do not emit white light; thus giving a color cast in the image. White Balance helps in getting rid of this color cast by warming or cooling down the color temperature of the photograph.

Types of white balance

  • Auto:

    This is where the camera makes a best guess and adjusts the colors of the images on a shot by shot basis. It works in many situations but it’s worth venturing out of it for trickier lighting. Its color temperature ranges between 3000K to 7000K.

  • Incandescent/Tungsten:

    With a color temperature of 3200K, this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is used for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten (incandescent) lighting (such as bulb lighting). It generally cools down the colors in photos.

  • Fluorescent:

    This compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots to make it look more natural. It has a color temperature of around 4000K.

  • Direct sunlight/Daylight:

    This is used mostly during shoots in the daytime under the natural sunlight. It basically cools down the bright warm sunlight to give pleasant and beautiful photographs. 5200K is its color temperature.

  • Flash:

    The flashes of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you’ll find it warms up your shots a bit to make it look more natural. Flash WB is hugely used in studio shoots.

  • Cloudy:

    This setting has a color temperature of 6000K and warms things up a little more than ‘daylight’ mode to compensate for the color cast due to the cloudy atmosphere.

  • Shade:

    The light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little. It has a color temperature of 7000K.

  • Custom:

    This setting is used to manually set the white balance and its color temperature ranges between 2000K to 10000K depending on where it’s manually set.

Manual White Balance

Mostly, one can get a pretty good output using the above White Balance presets but DSLRs allow for manual white balance adjustments as well.

Its use varies a little between camera models but the basic principle is to tell your camera what white color looks like in an image. This gives the camera a reference point for deciding how other colors should look. This can be done by buying a white or grey card which is designed specifically for this task.

The following 2 images give a really good example of how the process works.

The above image is taken in Auto White Balance mode. The light in the room is coming from three home light bulbs. And that is the reason the image has a slight yellow(warm) color cast.

To correct the color cast, a white/grey card is held up in front of the camera and clicked. Then the photo is kept as a reference in an option inside the white balance settings menu(it varies from camera to camera), to tell the camera what white looks like. The camera automatically sets according to the reference image.

Then with the new settings, the below image has been taken. This shows a much truer color than the first image and looks more natural due to the absence of the color cast.

This manual setting is not very difficult and is worth learning as it helps you in future. In order to learn it just check the white balance settings in the camera manual book.

Thus, move away from the Auto White Balance preset and use such settings and other presets to better the output image from the camera.

Also, Instagram got its own version of Last Seen. Disable it now!

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