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#5 - White Balance

White balance is one of the great things about digital photography.

With film photography, you had to recognize that the color of the light wasn't equivalent to daylight.

Then, you had to screw a colored filter onto the lens to adjust the color balance.

Now, your camera is set by default to the Automatic White Balance (AWB) setting.

With this setting, your camera measures the color of the light in a scene and adjusts the color balance of a scene to sunlight at around noon.

The AWB setting is acceptable for beginners.

However, for the most accurate color, you should switch the camera from the AWB setting, to one of the white balance icons described below.

Read your instruction manual to find out how to change from AWB to one of the white balance icons.

Then, experiment with AWB and the white balance icons.

White Balance Icons

Sun Icon

Use the sun icon if you're photographing in the sun.

Cloud Icon

Use this white balance icon if you want to remove the blue light of a cloudy day.

If you want to keep the blue color balance, use the sun icon.

Shade Icon

Shade is illuminated by the blue/green or cyan sky.

If you want a warmer color balance, use the shade icon.

If you want to keep the cyan color balance, use the sun icon.

Light Bulb Icon

Incandescent lights, which include light bulbs and halogen lamps, produce orange light.

The light produced by these light sources is called tungsten light in photography

Use the light bulb icon to remove the orange color.

Florescent Tube Icon

This icon adds magenta to reduce the green light of most florescent lights.

Some cameras may have a choice of two florescent icons.

Often, one icon is for warm florescent tubes and the second icon is for cool florescent tubes.

If the florescent lights are full-spectrum, their light is close to the color of daylight.

Use the sun icon.

Scenes with One Color

Occasionally, you may be photographing a scene that has one color, such as a red barn.

If you use the AWB setting, the camera will mute the color of the barn.

Instead, use the white balance icon that's close to the existing light in the scene.

If it's a sunny day, use the sun icon.

If the sky is cloudy, use the cloud icon.

Custom (Preset) White Balance

Many cameras allow you to set the white balance even more precisely.

This is called a custom or preset white balance setting.

You have to measure the color in the scene using a gray card or a sheet of white paper.

Follow the procedure in your camera instruction manual.