What is White Balance – Preventing Your Wife Become Avatar

What is White Balance – Preventing Your Wife Become Avatar

what is white balance - avatarWhen you are photographing your wife, it will lead you to a horrible experience if your wife turn into avatar colour. This is important to know what is white balance and how it affect your photo. Have you experienced that when you capture an image in an indoor environment and the image turns yellow? Sometimes you take a picture and it becomes blue? It is because the wrong setting of white balance. In digital photography, white balance is very important to adjust an image to its correct colour. Wong setting of white balance will ruin a picture because of unnatural skin colour, unwanted colour, wrong colour. Sometimes, photographers may set the white balance to more blue in order to make an image cooler. This requires the knowledge and skills on white balance.

Colour Temperature

Colour TemperatureBefore talking about what is white balance, you need to understand what colour temperature is. Different colour source gives different colour temperature, thus, different colour. Colour temperature is measured in degree Kelvin, K. In the below table, you can see that the colour temperature, the corresponding colour and light source in most photography cases.

The hotter the light source, the bluer the colour is. Reversely, when the light source is colder, the photo is yellower.

What is White Balance?

You can never feel that the colour is different from different light source except a very low Kelvin, such as candle light, which makes everything yellow and warm. As I said before, human eye and brain are so intelligent that know how to compensate the colour temperature effect. That mean you “see” an object in same colour no matter light source it is. You can try a quick experiment if you have yellow tinted sunglass or ski goggles: When you first put up the glass, you will see thing look yellowish. But after a while, things become normal colour back because your brain adjusts the colour tint automatically. In camera sensor, however, it is not the case. Cameras are not as intelligent as human brain in colour temperature. What cameras do so as to know the colour temperature is by guessing from the image. In modern cameras, this is pretty accurate in most cases. But sometimes cameras fail to guess correctly, the image might then look yellow or blue.

white balance compare

White Balance in A Camera

As cameras are just guessing the colour temperature from the ambient environment, photographers can tell the camera what is white balance by changing the setting of the WB (white balance). Take a look back to the above table. In order to compensate the colour tint, the opposite colour is added to the image. As blue and yellow are opposite colour (you can find this from the colour chart which I have discussed in the composition topic), that is, more yellow is needed to an image if the colour temperature is high and more blue is added when the colour temperature is low. Cameras have various WB modes for you to choose nowadays. I recommend you to check this out in the user manual as every camera is not the same. The menu should state clearly which mode is use in which situation and how to change the mode. Below are some common white balance modes in the mainstream camera model.

  • Auto: Default WB setting. The camera automatically sets the WB. This is the simplest setting if you shoot RAW
  • Tungsten: Use it under tungsten light bulbs or you want the photo become yellow or less blue
  • Fluorescent: Use under fluorescent lights. It can compensate the green colour of fluorescent light too
  • Direct Sunlight: Use when shooting outdoors with sun shine
  • Flash: Used when using a non-gelled flash. It is usually 5000K or 5500K
  • Cloudy: Used in cloudy days or in shades. This mode gives warmer images than sunlight mode
  • Shade: Warmer than cloudy mode. This mode adds orange to the image. Great setting for sunsets and subject in shades
  • Degree K: Manually select Kelvin value from 2,500 to 10,000 (for most camera)

User Preset

One mode I want to point out is the “user preset” mode. Only higher graded DSLRs and some EVIL have this white balance mode. This mode gives extremely accurate result once you understand how to use it. The user preset mode requires you to tell the camera what is “white”. Theoretically, a 18% grey card should be used to define “white”. However, it is not likely a photographer always bring a 18% grey card with him. Therefore using white colour thing is good enough to yield great white balance setting.

Setting to a correct white balance is extremely important if you are shooting jpeg file. Because a jpeg file has less degree of correction on white balance. On the other hand, you may ignore the white balance setting if you are shooting RAW and do not mind doing some post process so as to make the white balance back to normal. However, when you are editing over a thousand photos for a client, you won’t want to waste 1 more second on each photo. :D

Thank you for reading this so far. Please remember to share this post by the share buttons below. You support and share will give me more energy for the next great content. Last but not least, stay tuned for my new tutorial series and remember to check out my photo gallery.