We’re continuing with our DSLR 101 this week and today we’re explaining white balance.
White balance is responsible for keeping your photos the correct temperature. A low colour temperature creates more red, a higher colour temperature more blue. Digital cameras create the correct colour temperature by picking the part of the photo that it thinks should be white and filtering the light to make that area white.
If you want natural looking photos you need the correct white balance. In other words having the correct white balance prevents your photos from looking too cold (blue) or too warm (red). Although your camera will have an Automatic White Balance (AWB) setting digital cameras are not as good at detecting which part of the photo should be white as you are.
You can get a more accurate white balance by choosing a manual setting for the white balance or creating a custom white balance of your own.
Most DSLRs will let you choose a white balance from within the menu. The choices are likely to include daylight, shade, cloudy/twilight, tungsten, fluorescent light, and flash. Using these setting is a good start and can improve your photos greatly, especially those taken in the more extremes light (such as fluorescent light or twilight).
To get the most accurate white balance you can set a custom white balance. You can buy a grey card from most photography stores to help you do this, or you can find a white object in your shot and use that instead. Fill the viewfinder with the grey card, or the white object, and shoot using manual focus. The exact method of setting this as the white balance varies from camera to camera, you may have to press the white balance button before you take the shot or after. Check the manual of your camera to find out how yours works.
For most situations AWB or one of the manual settings will do just fine but it’s worth learning how to set the custom white balance, especially if you do a lot of shooting indoors.