White Balance is a feature found in most digital cameras that corrects for incandescent or fluorescent lighting. It removes unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in persons eyes are rendered white in your photo.
White Balance is closely connected with the concept of “color temperature”, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light. A cooler light has a higher color temperature, which means it shifts towards the blue. Accordingly, a warmer light shifts towards the red, as it has lower color temperature.
Most digital cameras has Auto White Balance which adjusts the color temperature according to the situation. Though, often in-camera algorithm fails to choose the right white balance, and it results in reddish, bluish or even greenish color cast of an image.
RAW or JPEG
Whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG format will define the way you’ll achieve the correct white balance.
RAW File Format
If your camera allows you to capture RAW images, you don’t need to worry about setting the white balance at the moment of shooting, because you can adjust the correct color temperature in post-processing. Although, performing a white balance with a raw file is quick and easy, many photographers still prefer shooting in JPEG, as it takes more time to save RAW images and to process them.
JEPG File Format
If you shoot in JPEG format, it doesn’t mean that you have to learn color temperature and green-magenta shift - you can just choose between several preset white balances of your digital camera. Depending on the camera level, it may have several white balance settings. The following are the most common:
- Auto White Balance
Note: many point-and-shoots include only some of the following settings, while others may also include a “Fluorescent H” mode, which is designed to work in newer daylight-calibrated fluorescents.
The first three white balances allow for a range of color temperatures. The remaining six white balances are listed in order of increasing color temperature (that means the upper settings have more blue lights and less red lights than the lower ones).
When choosing the preset white balance you are to take into account many factors such as the time of day, elevation, or degree of haziness, etc. Also, remember that their description is only rough estimates for the actual lighting under which they work best.
REMEMBER: if you image looks too cool on your LCD screen preview, you can improve it by selecting a mode further down on the list above (thus increasing the color temperature) and vice verse.
If it doesn’t help, you can resort to Kelvin or Custom Modes.
Kelvin White Balance allows to set the color temperature manually over a broad range.
Custom White Balance
Custom White Balance deals with neutral reference. You can point the camera at a white/grey object or card (neutral reference), and the camera will calculate the correct colour temperature of an object.
Neutral references can either be any object in the room, or can be a portable card which you carry with you. You can either buy a portable neutral reference card or use a household neutral reference, which can be the underside of a lid to a coffee or pringles container.
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