Have you ever taken a photo inside and wondered why everyone is orange? Or perhaps you took a photo in the shade and your child was a strange shade of blue?
What Is White Balance
White balance is how your camera interprets the color of light in a scene. Each light source has it’s own individual color. When we take a photo, our cameras usually try to neutralize these different colors to give you the most natural looking photo it can. Like this:
There are several ways to correct your white balance and today, I’m going to show you a few options that should help you get the best white balance for your photos!
The following photos are are straight out of my camera, no editing except for sharpening for web and taken with a Canon 6D and a 50 1.8 Lens.
White Balance Presets
Presets are a quick easy way to help you get white balance correct straight out of your cameras. The trick is to know what kind of lighting you are in and choose the correct preset. You need to know when you need to cool down warm light and warm up cool light.
Custom White Balance
Custom white balance is another great way to get your white balance correct straight out of camera. However, it does take planning.
(For this picture I used a expodisc)
You will need a neutral item such as a gray card or an expodisc. This option for setting white balance is best if you have really bad lighting. Different cameras have different methods for setting your custom white balance, but for the most part, it involves taking a photo with the neutral (the gray card or expodisc) and then telling your camera “this is what I need the color in my photo to look like, fix it!”
But REMEMBER: If your light changes, you have to go back and reset your custom white balance again.
Adjusting the Kelvin temperature is a very specific way to correct your white balance. Kelvin is a scale for measuring color temperature. Cool colors like Blue usually have a color temperature over 7000K, while warmer colors like orange and red are around 2000K. Not all cameras allow you to set Kelvin White Balance, but if you have a high end DLSR, you should be able to. It takes a lot of practice to be able to read the light and then know the best temperature to dial in. There are various kelvin charts floating around the web, but a lot of photographers just memorize the chart.
An easy way to learn kelvin is to set your camera to live view and adjust the kelvin white balance in real time until you find the perfect color. The key is to remember that your goal is to neutralize the temperature of the light of your scene. So, if you are in the shade, you want to set your Kelvin Temperature HIGH like 7000K to get rid of bluish tones and light. And if you are somewhere where your light is really yellow, like your kid’s gymnasium, you will want to set your Kelvin White Balance to a low temperature.
Just remember, the key to white balance is to remember that you are trying to neutralize the light.
Next up is a terrific video in which Layne Kennedy demonstrates how to use the white balance settings on your camera for differing creative options. Tremendous.
This next video teaches explains exactly what white balance really is and how to use it to make the most of your photography.
Lets finish with 6 tips for gaining a better understanding of white balance and color temperature. This video tells you even more about white balance and color temperature and how you can use them to improve your photography.