White Balance • Photography Tips & Tricks

On Tuesday, I mentioned white balance. So what the heck is white balance? White balance is getting the colors correct in your photograph so that whites are white. I’m sure there is a more technical definition out there, but that’s what it means to me. Photos with the incorrect white balance can lean toward blue or orange. But wait! Just because it’s incorrect doesn’t mean it’s wrong. You can use different types of white balance to show mood or emotion. Maybe that orangey hue is what you want so that your image is warm and welcoming, or maybe you want that darker, hazy blue to show how still and peaceful that moment was. So how do you do this? You could set custom white balance every time you shoot or you could keep your camera on auto white balance, too. Most newer digital SLRs are pretty darn good at picking the correct right balance. But correct isn’t always best, so use your camera’s brain from time to time.

There are several different white balance settings (and these vary from camera to camera), but I’m going to mention just a couple. The first, my favorite, is the shady setting. Pictures taken with the white balance set to shade are often warmer than those set to auto. Your whites might not be copy-paper white, but the warm undertones are so gorgeous.

Cloudy is another setting some photographers swear by–and may even insist you use it all the time! I would never suggest one white balance for all your photos although correcting white balance is easier with every new software update (I use Lightroom). Cloudy is just a little bit cooler than shade, and it is very effective on a cloudy day.

Tungsten if used at the wrong time turns things a bit green; fluorescent works well under fluorescent lighting. Daylight I find to be the least effective on my camera; it tends to leave the colors flat and uninspired. If  I am shooting in daylight, I most often leave my white balance either on auto or shade. To use custom, simply put, you aim the camera at a piece of white paper and it figures everything out. The most important thing is to play around with your white balance settings and find out what works best for you and your camera.

Here are some samples of different white balance settings. Can you guess which is which?

And here’s an example of what can go “wrong” if you leave the white balance set to tungsten or fluorescent unintentionally. See the greenish undertones to this? Oops!

By the way, expect a post of this little sweetheart soon!


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