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Photography Lessons

Photography Blog

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Photography: White Balance Adjustment

(Learned from an email sent by Albertson's photo email)

White Balance is essentially the color temperature in any picture, and most cameras provide some sort of functionality to control the White Balance in your shot. Because the camera sees differently than our eyes, it is sometimes important to "trick" the camera into capturing how you want color to appear in your photo.

1. If you are not sure, always start with Auto (AWB). The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting tells the camera to set the white balance for you automatically. This is a good place to start; if the photo turns out well in your preview, then there is probably no need to further adjust the white balance. But this setting can be hit or miss, so you may have to try another option.

2. If you picture has red or orange tint , the Tungsten setting (usually a light bulb icon) adds blue to the photo to compensate. Regular (tungsten) light bulbs give off an orange tint, so this is a good setting to use indoors when photographing under incandescent lights.

3. If your picture has greenish tint in it, use Fluorescent setting (usually a fluorescent bulb icon) which adds magenta into the photo to compensate for the green tint given off by most fluorescent light bulbs. Use this setting indoors under fluorescent lights.

4. If your photo has Blue tint, the Cloudy setting (usually a cloud icon) warms the photo up by adding orange to compensate for the blue tint given off by clouds. Use this setting when photographing outdoors in cloudy or overcast situations.

5. If your photo has Shade. The Shade setting adds even more orange than the Cloudy setting to warm up a photo taken outside in the shade. Two other White Balance settings you may find on your camera are: Daylight. Use this setting when shooting outdoors in a sunny situation. Chances are the AWB setting will produce very similar results, so you can probably use either one. Flash. The Flash setting is best when you set up an external flash (a flash not built into your camera). Without setting your camera to the Flash mode, the entire photo will turn blue when using an external flash. Your regular built-in flash does not require you to use this setting; the camera will automatically adjust accordingly. Color Temperature. Cameras also measure color temperature. Your camera may allow you to set the color temperature, measured in degree units of Kelvin. This is a bit more advanced, but if you choose to give it a try, just remember that the higher the Kelvin number is, the warmer (more orange) the photo will be, and the lower the number is, the colder (more blue) the photo will be. For example, the Shade setting (which adds orange) takes a photo at about 7000 degrees Kelvin, while the Tungsten setting (which adds blue) takes a photo at about 3200 degrees Kelvin. Pure white is 5200 degrees Kelvin. If you do have the ability to set the color temperature, it is fun to intentionally manipulate a photo. For instance, an already warm sunset shot could be more fantastic if made even warmer by increasing the color temperature. Play around and have fun!

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