White Balance


23 March 2020

The first thing I wanted to cover is white balance. White balance removes unwanted color casts, so that objects that appear white in person are actually white in the photo. To do this, the white balance system in digital cameras, measures the color temperature of the light being reflected from the subject. Then it adjusts the red, blue, and green components of the signal from the imaging chip before it is recorded, so the photo looks normal. 

On to your camera! Your camera should have various white balance modes (WB) including: auto, sunny, shade, fluorescent, tungsten, flash and custom. We will touch on each of these modes. Auto measures the color temperature of the scene, and adds correction to provide a natural-looking scene.  Sunny is for outdoor shots in fine weather when the main light source is the sun. Shade is for shots taken in shade or cloudy days. Fluorescent  is for shots taken under strip lighting, tungsten is for shots taken when the main light source is household bulbs.  Flash is for shots taken with a flash, and custom (maybe on your camera as PRE) allows you to set your own white balance using a special technique. 

What method do I use? I use the custom white balance setting, to do this you will need a grey card, or something neutral grey to measure white balance. Depending on your camera, you basically take a shot with the grey card and your camera adjusts and stores this as a setting. You can also make adjustments to your white balance after you take your photo in Lightroom or Camera Raw, which will be discussed later.

White balance can be used creatively to give an image an overall color tone as well. For example, it can be used to warm up sunset photos, or cool down winter snow photos. 

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