Set The Correct White Balance

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White balance correction is the process of rendering accurate colors in your final image. Most people don't even notice that light has different color characteristics because the human eye automatically adjusts to different color temperatures, so quickly, in fact, that everything looks correct in a matter of milliseconds.

When color film ruled the world, photographers would select which film to use depending on what their light source was going to be. The most common film was balanced for daylight, but you could also buy film that was color balanced for tungsten light sources. Most other lighting situations had to be handled by using color filters over the lens. This process was necessary for the photographer's final image to show the correct color balance of a scene.

Your camera has the ability to perform this same process automatically, but you can also choose to override it and set it manually. Guess which method we are going to use? You are catching on fast! Once again, your photography should be all about maintaining control over everything that influences your final image.

Luckily, you don't need to have a deep understanding of color temperatures to control your camera's white balance. The choices are given to you in terms that are easy to relate to and that will make things pretty simple. Your white balance choices are:

• Auto: The default setting for your camera. It is also the setting used by all of the Basic modes (see Chapter 3).

• Daylight: Most often used for general daylight/sun-lit shooting.

• Shade: Used when working in shaded areas that are still using sunlight as the dominant light source.

• Cloudy: The choice for overcast or very cloudy days. This and the Shade setting will eliminate the blue color cast from your images.

• Tungsten: Used for any occasion where you are using regular household-type bulbs for your light source. Tungsten is a very warm light source and will result in a yellow/orange cast if you don't correct for it.

• Fluorescent: Used to get rid of the green-blue cast that can result from using regular fluorescent lights as your dominant light source. Some fluorescent lights are actually balanced for daylight, which would allow you to use the Daylight white balance setting.

• Flash: Used whenever you're using the built-in flash or using a flash on the hot shoe. You should select this white balance to adjust for the slightly cooler light that comes from using a flash. (The hot shoe is the small bracket located on the top of your camera, which rests just above the eyepiece. This bracket is used for attaching a more powerful flash to the camera [see Chapter 8 and the bonus chapter].)

• Custom: Indicates that you are using a customized white balance that is adjusted for a particular light source. If you know what the color temperature of your light source is, you can manually create a white balance setting that is specifically for that light source.

Your camera has two different "zones" of shooting modes to choose from. These are located on the Mode dial, and they're called the Basic and Creative zones. All of the Basic modes, which are identifiable by small icons, are automatic in nature and do not allow for much, if any, customization. The Creative modes, defined by the letter symbols, allow for much more control by the photographer (Figure 1.3).


The camera's shooting modes are divided into the Basic zone and the Creative zone.


The camera's shooting modes are divided into the Basic zone and the Creative zone.

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