What is White Balance?

By Kenith Png | Landscape

Dec 23

Have your photos ever turned out with an undesired blueish or yellowish look? Have you ever been puzzled by this? Well, the answer could be White Balance!

White Balance (WB) is an aspect of photography that many beginners are unaware of. However, learning what it is can be highly valuable. Simply put, the function of White Balance is to achieve the most faithful colours in your images. This is done by telling your camera what colour the light is. 

Images are lit by different sources of light, such as a warm fire (more red) or a cool fluorescent light (more blue). Our eyes automatically adjust to these different sources so quickly that we don’t notice the changes in colour.

Cameras, however, don’t make adjustments. We need to set the White Balance. There are basic White Balance settings which can be used for different light conditions;

Auto — In this mode, the camera automatically adjusts the White Balance.

Tungsten (incandescent) light — Use this setting under tungsten light bulbs. This mode makes the image much cooler (bluer) to compensate for the warm hue of the tungsten light.

White fluorescent light — Use this under fluorescent light or when the photos look too green or blue.

Daylight — Used for scenes lit by sunlight and clear skies. This mode does not make photos as cool as fluorescent and tungsten modes.

Flash — Used for electronic flash.

Cloudy — Used in shade or cloudy areas. Also ideal for sunsets and sunrises.

Shade — Used for the same situations as cloudy, adding warmer colours to the photo.

White Balance can also be adjusted in post-processing softwares such as Lightroom and Photoshop, under the temperature/tint section when the image is shot in RAW.

Adjusting White Balance can also help you be more creative when taking images. For example, giving an image a cooler cast can create a sad tone, while having a warmer image may illustrate joy and liveliness.

I hope this lesson in White Balance has broadened your knowledge of and helped you be more creative with your photography.

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