Watch that White Balance

By David Halgrimson

When shooting, we need to watch the White Balance settings on our camera. White balance controls the color cast in an image. A color cast will come from the color temperature emitted by the light source. The color temperature can create a warm, reds and yellows or cool, blues, feel in an image. This can be controlled in most cameras by selecting from multiple White Balance settings such as Sunny, cloudy, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, and custom where the actual color temperature number can be selected.

Why is this important? Well, the camera does not see light quite as well as the human eye and may add color to an image that was not seen by the photographer when taking the image. For instance, when shooting indoors under florescent lighting the camera will add a blue tint to the overall image and tungsten light will add a yellow tint which in most cases will not look good for portraits or people in general. Another example is shooting images with bright whites such as a winter scene with snow. Even with the White Balance set to the best possible setting our cameras like to think of bright white as light gray.

What to do? First, be sure to check the White Balance setting on the camera before shooting and set it to the current lighting. Next, if you do post processing of your images it would be best to shoot in RAW. When shooting in RAW you can adjust the White Balance as needed or wanted. You can change from a cool blue to a warm red tint with one quick adjustment.

Here are two images taken in bright snow, the first one has a blue cast the second has been adjusted for the white snow but still has a warm cast due to the reflections from the rocks.

There is far more to knowing White Balance than covered in this short blog so hit the internet and search for White Balance and you will find enough info to boggle your mind. Don’t’ let it overwhelm you though, keep it to the basics and your images will be great.

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

2 thoughts on “Watch that White Balance

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