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phototips@alexismiller.com
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White Balance

Digital cameras are sensitive to the color of light. To the human eye, most light appears white, but there are actually many different colors of light. In many situations, using one of the preset white balance settings will provide great results. However, there are also many lighting situations that will require a custom white balance setting. Any time that there is a mix of the colors of light will benefit from a custome white balance setting. For example, if you're taking pictures indoors with window light, and there is a lamp in the room providing additional light you'll want to set a custom white balance. All cameras are different in the way that a custom white balance is set. Check your owner's manual.

The photos below were all taken in my living room using a floor lamp for light with preset white balance settings.


For the first photo, I set the camera's white balance to the tungsten setting, which is indicated by a little light bulb symbol. The first photo has proper white balance. For the second photo, I used the fluorescent white balance setting. This setting adds red tones to compensate for the greenish colored light that many fluorescent lights provide. The third photo was taken with the daylight setting. This setting adds warm tones to compensate for the blue light that sunny daylight outdoors provides.



This graphic shows a list of typical white balance setting icons (icons will vary by camera) and the way that the camera compensates for the color of light.

3 comments:

Michelle said...

Great blog you have here! Lots of good info, well-written and visually interesting :)

Michelle said...

I'd love to see a visual chart like the one you have for white balance to explain what the camera does in the various shooting modes (portrait, landscape, night scene, snow...) For example, portrait: aperture opens wide to help blur background. (I think that's right!?) I'd be more inclined to use these shooting modes if I knew how they work and why I should use them! My manual (I have a P&S) only says things like, landscape: used to shoot landscapes (duh!).

michelle cunningham said...

alexis? do you mind if i use your graphic chart for a class i'm teaching?