White balance is a term used to denote properly adjusting the exposure for color cast created by the ambient light. All types of light create color cast. Even shooting under a blue sky also creates a color cast. Perfect day light will make any color appear perfectly as they should be, but often we are shooting in a mixed lighting situation. Tungsten or florescent or candle-light for example will create a warm red, blue and orange color respectively. A white sheet of paper will appear red, bluish or orange respectively in such conditions. Setting the right white balance means letting the camera know what the color white looks like in the given lighting conditions. This can be done by several different methods. One of them is using the auto white balance option on your camera. Every camera (even a small mobile camera) has an auto white balance feature. Turn it on and the camera will automatically determine the right white balance for a given lighting condition. There are a number of preset white balance settings such as tungsten, fluorescent, daylight, cloudy, shade and so on to be used in respective situations. This however, is an approximation and you may want to be a little more precise for better results. The next option would be to use a sheet of white paper. Take a picture of the sheet of white paper in the given lighting condition by filling the frame. Set it as the custom white balance for the scene before shooting the main images. This lets the camera know what the color white looks like in the given lighting conditions. The third method involves manually entering the white balance. To do this cheat sheets are available that gives you an approximate value to be dialed in for a specific lighting condition. A bit of practice and you can memorize these numbers to be used in real life situations. In any condition it is highly recommended that you shoot in RAW which will allow you to tweak the white balance later on during post-processing.« Back to Glossary Index
This entry was posted by Sergey L.