How To Set White Balance – Perfecting Color In Your Photos
I used to always have the same problem. I’d set up the perfect shot, the right framing, the right subject, the right everything. I’d take the shot, then review it to find that the colors looked dull, washed out, or just plain wrong. I had the same problem many people do, I needed to adjust my white balance.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to ensure the correct white balance when taking pictures.
Different types of light have different “temperature”. Cooler temperatures come out looking blue, while warm temperatures appear yellow or red in your photo. The best color for a shot is a neutral temperature. All this means is that white objects in the picture actually look white. If you can achieve a proper white balance, you’ll notice the coloring of your pictures comes out more like what it looked like to your eye when you snapped the shot.
With film cameras, getting the correct white balance means changing a filter, but with digitals, the camera does most of the work for you. The problem is, the camera doesn’t always know what white is, so you have to know how to use the features.
The easiest way to adjust your white balance is to let the camera do it for you using the “auto white balance” feature. This is just like auto focus or anything else “auto” on your camera; the camera determines what filter level it thinks is right for the shot. The problem with auto white balance is also the same as any other auto feature on your camera; the sensors just aren’t as good as your eyes. Start with the auto white balance on. If the white in the picture doesn’t look white to you, then you can start adjusting.
When you go into your camera’s white balance menu, you’ll notice a lot of choices that may or not make sense to you. Sunny and cloudy white balance should be self explanatory, but you’ll also find adjustments for different kinds of indoor light bulbs, called tungsten (incandescent) and fluorescent.
If you’re like me, you can’t look at the ceiling and say “ah, that looks tungsten, I should use that filter”. The easiest way to determine the correct setting is to take a picture and look at the color. If you’re picture is turning out blue, try using the tungsten or incandescent feature. For yellow or red hues, try the fluorescent option.
If none of the preset white balance options on your camera are working, many cameras now let you set the white balance yourself, although you may need to pull out your camera manual to find exactly how to do it on your particular model.
The manual function works by you telling the camera what color is white, just like you set a scale by telling it what weight is zero. Take a white card and hold it where you will be taking the picture; be sure the camera is zoomed so only the white card is in the frame. Set your white balance to zero and you should have the perfect coloring.
If you’ve tried all the above options and nothing has worked for you, don’t give up yet. Almost all photo editing software programs have an option for adjusting your image temperature. Just look for a setting that can make your picture “cooler” or “warmer”.
While perfecting the white balance in your pictures may take a bit of time, you’ll notice a significant improvement in the quality of your shots.