What is White Balance? White balance is basically a way to “measure” the temperature of light and to “balance” out the colors of your photography for the desired results. Ideally, the goal of a conventional photograph is to attain an ideal White Balance where the white color is as close to true, neutral white as possible and all of the colors in your image are true to life.
As you can see below the shades of color in the photos under the exact same conditions. A simple change in the White Balance manually for each of the 5 photos gives completely different results. So this setting is so important. Especially for Moms taking photos of their kids at school under florescent lights, you must change the setting, try it, and you will see an improvement in your photos - promise!!
The first row is inside in front of a window, row two is on my porch under the overhang in the shade, the third row is in the daylight sun. Look how the White Balance settings change the photos.
What is White Balance on your camera? White Balance refers to how your camera reads and adjusts to the temperature of the light. Every light source has a different “color” or “temperature” to them. Our eyes adjust to this fairly well, but digital cameras need a little help, with the White Balance function. If you’ve ever taken a photo and the colors of the image are not the same that you see, maybe everything looks blue or reddish-yellow, then you are seeing an incorrect White Balance. Most digital cameras have functions for Auto White Balance and a setting to manually set your White Balance (Daylight/sunny, shade, cloudy, tungston, fluorescent, etc…), and a Custom Preset that you can set yourself.
Here are some of the basic White Balance settings you’ll find on cameras:
- Auto – this is where the camera makes a best guess on a shot by shot basis. You’ll find it works in many situations but it’s worth venturing out of it for trickier lighting.
- Tungsten – this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is 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.
- Daylight/Sunny – not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly ‘normal’ white balance settings.
- Cloudy – this setting generally warms things up a touch more than ‘daylight’ mode.
- Flash – the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you’ll find it warms up your shots a touch.
- Shade – the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.
Below are two photos I took on Manual Mode setting the camera myself
and not using any of the auto settings.