This is a quick discussion about a very important feature in your camera. The white balance adjustment option allows you to correct the color tone that your camera captures in different lighting conditions. Many a times you take a picture of a perfect sunset only to find out that the colors are nowhere near what you saw with your eyes. Again, when you take a picture of your friend under a tungsten light, it has a strange orange color cast to it. Even wondered why this happens?
The reason behind this is that different types of light have different temperature. This is where the concept of white balance comes in. But a lot of photographers avoid it like the plague because they don’t understand how to use it. While a today’s photo editing software can take care of all of your color correction needs, it pays to do that in-camera in order to get the most accurate results. This will help you to get it right when you are actually out their physically.
Color has Temperature?
You betcha! Just like different colors have different wave-lengths they also have different temperature. The following paragraphs will explain how to correct it.
White Balance adjustment - Using preset options
White balance adjustment basically means letting the camera know what the color temperature is under a given lighting condition so that it can adjust itself and make white appear white. So, if the images are appearing too orange or yellowish, move the camera’s white balance from Auto to Tungsten. This will cool down the color temperature.
All digital cameras come with a series of pre-set white balance settings such as Tungsten, Fluorescent, Daylight / Sunny, Cloudy, Flash and so on. Use them according to the lighting conditions and these pre-set values will correct for any unwarranted color casts, ensuring that the final outcome is near perfect.
Manual Adjustment (the easy approach)
Sometimes though it becomes essential to by-pass the preset values and take matters into your own hand. This method is probably as accurate as you can get without the complexities of having to assess the color temperature and then dial it in order to eliminate any color cast.
In this process the photographer will first take a test shot of a white sheet of paper under the lights in which the final shot will be taken. Usually the model holds the paper in front of her face and the photographer clicks the picture. Then the photographer sets this as the white balance telling the camera that this is how white looks under the given lighting condition.
Manual Adjustment (the technical approach)
Finally, the process to adjust white balance using the technical approach. This involves assessing the temperature of the color and then setting it in the camera to get the WB accurate. This is however only available in some of the professional DSLRs only. You can use the reference chart shown here. Shooting in candle-light? That is about a 1000K. So, dial in the number and take a picture. If the picture still appears less than perfect then try using a higher number like 1100 or even 1500 and adjust. The more you shoot the better you get at this.