Color Your World: Using White balance

Color Your World: Using White balance

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What is White Balance

Image with color temperature set to 4500
Image with color temperature set to 5750
Image with color temperature set to 7500

In a nutshell, if the human eye looks at a sheet of white paper in the morning it looks white because our eye adjusts to white automatically but the camera will see the paper as having a blue cast. Using white balance correctly is how you color your world.

If the same bit of paper was held up in front of our eye at lunchtime and again at sunset our eye still compensates and sees the paper as white but not so with the camera. So you can set your camera at “auto white balance” which takes an average only and is most of the time incorrect. If you are using raw as the output for your camera and you are processing in a product such as Lightroom then you can safely correct the White Balance before creating your image file. This is done by adjusting the color temperature using degrees of Kelvin.

Camera Setting for White Balance

You can change to the little icons for “sun” “shade” “incandescent” “fluro” or “night” all of these are ok but nowhere as good as setting the exact white balance for the light you are in. Go to set white balance if your camera has it – say yes, then aim your camera at a piece of white paper filling the whole frame (you may have to turn off the autofocus) press the shutter release (like taking a photo) and it will be “set” just for where you are now – if you move to another area you would have to change it again.

It is important to note that when you set your white balance all the colors in your photo will be correct and without color cast even if your subject is standing right next to a yellow wall. Don’t forget to check the information from your camera manufacturer on how the white balance is set. I use a Nikon camera, so I refer to their guidance.

In a nutshell, if the human eye looks at a sheet of white paper in the morning it looks white because our eye adjusts to white automatically but the camera will see the paper as having a blue cast. White Balance is important in the process of getting a correct exposure, For additional information, please read my post on the exposure triangle.

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