If you own a modern camera, then you have probably heard the term “white balance” before. Even more importantly, you have probably wondered what is white balance exactly.
Before you go and Google, what is WB, check out our basic definition. To put it in simple terms, white balance is one of your camera settings. In fact, it is one of the most important of these settings because it ultimately determines the color balance of any photo you take.
Of course, that is a simplistic definition, so it takes some deeper diving to truly understand white balance and how to use it appropriately in your own photos.
White Balance Enables You to Achieve a Perfect Color Balance
One of the first things to understand about white balance is that it helps you to achieve perfect balance in photography, at least as far as color is concerned. And, when you consider the fact that balance is the go-to goal in photography, it becomes even easier to see that white balance matters a lot.
See, the thing to understand about photography is that it is very dependent on the light in which you shoot each individual photo. Each light source will have some kind of color connected to it dependent on temperature. Some lights, for example, may appear orange or yellow on camera, while others may appear more blue.
While it’s always wise to choose the right lighting source whenever possible, you can fix smaller lighting issues through proper white balance. This setting on a camera, when utilized properly, can fix color discrepancies that you do not want to see in your photo. That is why it is so very important to choose a camera that allows you to easily fix and adjust white balance settings.
Whenever Possible, Use RAW Image Format when Capturing Your Photos
When many people, especially newer or amateur photographers, think of white balance and perfecting it, they think of doing so after they have shot their desired images.
However, true professional photographers know that this is not the best advice. Since white balance can be a bit tricky to adjust, it’s much better to adjust it after you have taken your photo.
Yes, try to get the lighting just right and do everything you can to take a wonderful photo. Chances are, if you do a great job and have even greater lighting, you won’t have to make any adjustments in the first place.
If you do end up having to make adjustments, though, it is much easier to fix them after the fact. This is true IF- and that’s a big IF- you choose to take the photos in RAW image format.
RAW images are a whole lot easier to edit and adjust than other images, so if getting the perfect white balance is important to you, always make sure that you choose a camera that can take photos in RAW image format.
Adjust Your Color Temperature Appropriately
If you want to properly adjust your white balance, you need to properly adjust your color temperature. While that might sound complicated, it’s really a matter of choosing the right Kelvin temperature on your camera for the light source you are using. Here’s a handy reference guide, though you can always do more research to apply to your specific situation:
- Indoor candlelight = 1,700 to 1,900 Kelvin
- Indoor Tungsten = 2,500 Kelvin
- Indoor Halogen = 3,000 Kelvin
- Indoor Florescent = 4,200 Kelvin
- Indoor Flash = 5,500 Kelvin
- Outdoor Sunrise or Sunset = 2,000 to 3,000 Kelvin
- Outdoor Early Morning Light to Mid Afternoon Light = 3,500 to 4,500 Kelvin
- Noon Light = 5,500 Kelvin
- Cloudy Light= 6,000 to 7,000 Kelvin
- Twilight = 7,500 to 10,000 Kelvin
Obviously, as you can see, there is quite a bit of variation on this list. Thus, take it as general advice for setting your temperature settings.
With a little experimentation and this basic know-how, however, you should be taking great, perfectly balanced pictures in no time at all.
If You’re a Newbie, Go for An Automatically Adjusting Camera
If everything that we just said about adjusting temperature went way over your head and made you feel confused, don’t worry.
Unless you want to get schooled in photography, temperatures, and lighting, just go ahead and buy a camera that automatically adjusts the white balance.
While this may feel a bit like “cheating,” it’s definitely helpful when you first start out. Plus, as you learn and grow as a photographer, you can always upgrade when the time feels right.
In fact, as long as you buy a camera at your level and then grow from there, white balance and how to achieve it perfectly should not be a problem at all, but, instead, a real learning experience.