What Is White Balance In Photography

When taking photographs, one of the most important things is white balance. This is also referred to as exposure or light source!

When you are shooting with a smartphone that does not have automatic settings, you must manually adjust the color temperature of the image.

On more advanced cameras, there are ways to have it automatically detect the correct WB for the picture, but this depends on the sensor size, lighting conditions, and what type of photo you want to take.

In this article we will go over all of these concepts, including how to do it yourself if you have no idea what we were talking about. So get ready to learn something new!

What is white balance?

A very basic definition of white balance (WB) is changing the intensity and colors of light being reflected off of an object or material.

For example, when shooting under fluorescent lights, some objects such as furniture can become overly bright and yellowish. You would need to lower the white balance setting so they match the light better.

Other shades of gray and blue may also look weird due to mismatched WB. People often refer to this as “cooling” the photograph.

Raising the white balance makes shadows and other parts of the picture darker and less contrasty. Doing this is typically done when photographing indoors or outside during sunsets where the sunset is too warm.

Understanding white balance

 

When taking pictures, one of your first tasks will be to determine what kind of light you are being exposed to and how to make the image look best. This is called white balance or exposure setting.

Photographers use different types of white balanced light sources to ensure that their images look good as they were not modified in software after capture. For instance, normal daylight coming from the sun is considered “neutral” white balance.

By experimenting with various settings, you can learn which ones work well in your photographs and which do not. There are many ways to achieve neutral white balance, so choose the one that works for you!

This article will go over some basics about white balance and how to use them in photoshop.

Shooting into the sun

what is white balance in photography

The term ‘white balance’ refers to your camera’s ability to recognize that some parts of the image contain light from either direct sunlight or reflected light, and then use this information to determine what color temperature the rest of the picture should be.

When you take pictures under natural light, there is often a lot of variability in tone and color across different areas of the frame. This can look very busy and/or soft where shadows are involved, but also overly bright and white when light sources such as windows, cars, and people are present.

It is up to the photographer to stabilize these tones by using various settings and tricks, but one important factor to consider is white balance. A neutral setting will make it easier to do so!

There are several types of white balances available for photographers to choose from. Most cameras have a standard luminance (also called gray body) white balance, which was designed to work well with indoor lighting conditions and average daytime scenes.

However, if you want more specific colors and tonal variations than just vanilla warm or cool shades, there are other options.

Using the white balance setting

what is white balance in photography

When taking pictures, one of the most important settings to control is white balance. This will determine what color temperature your photo comes down to!

Photos with red or orange shades are considered warm tone photos while those that are blue or green are cool toned photographs.

In this case, the photographer has used an off-camera light source which was probably daylight balanced (warm) and then they manually adjusted the white balance using their camera’s settings.

By experimenting with different white balances, you can achieve some really interesting results. Let us look at another example….

Learning your camera’s white balance

what is white balance in photography

When taking pictures with a digital camera, one of the most important settings is white balance (also referred to as color temperature). This setting determines what kind of feeling you want your picture to have.

If you use the wrong white balance, your photo may look very bright or dark, low quality or weird. There are many types of white balances that differ by scene type; for example, daylight balanced vs. tungsten balanced.

By learning how different white bales work, you will be able to take better photos! Luckily, it is not difficult to do. Here are some easy tips to learn your camera’s white balance.

Neutralizing colored lighting

what is white balance in photography

When shooting with natural light, there are three main components of white balance that you will need to consider.

1) The color temperature of your source light

2) The type of photometric filter you have installed into your lens

3) Your camera’s automatic settings for white balance

The first thing is to make sure that whatever light you are using to illuminate your subject is not very warm (incandescent or tungsten bulbs). If it is, then you will need to either use neutral density filters to reduce its intensity or buy some cool gels or shades to apply as a compensatory filter.

Photographic gel filters come in various shapes and colors, but all work by absorbing certain wavelengths of light while letting others pass through. This can be done either by having the filter absorb longer wavelengths or shorter wavelengths. For example, an amber gel might cut off short wavelength red rays, while leaving green and blue ones intact.

Another way to do this is to use an external flash. Most professional level DSLRs have modes where they will automatically determine the necessary exposure when using both direct sun and indirect sunlight, for instance.

Use the correct white balance

what is white balance in photography

When taking pictures, there is one thing that many people get wrong: white balance. It’s an important part of capturing beautiful images, but most people forget it or are never taught how to use it properly.

White balance has two main purposes: to make your photos look good and to ensure that your colors do not run together due to color inaccuracy.

By using the right white balance for your photo, you can also create more interesting photographs! For example, by putting red objects next to green plants, you can add depth to your image.

There are several types of white balances in photography, so which one you choose really does make a difference. This article will go into greater detail about each type of white balance and what situations they are helpful in.

Examples of bad white balance

what is white balance in photography

Changing your white balance can really affect the look you want to achieve with your photos!

There are several reasons why changing your white balance is important, but one of the most common causes for poor results is when someone uses the wrong source or type of light to illuminate their subject.

When lighting up an object, different types of light typically result in different looks. For instance, direct sunlight produces very bright, warm colors like yellowing your skin and making it appear tanner. Indirect sun rays also produce darker, cooler shades of color that make your subjects seem more neutral.

During night time scenes, blue lights usually create overly cool looking images due to how they effect human vision. This can sometimes even cause people to feel dizzy or sick because of the difference in exposure between their eyes. Only use blue light sources like streetlights or artificial bulbs while taking pictures at night!

The opposite happens when using strong red light, which creates overexposed photographs that look very pink or blood-like. Using too much red light will also cause your photo to be completely black and white since there’s not enough contrast for it to become visible.

Examples of good white balance

One important thing to note is that not all light sources are created equal! As we discussed, different types of lights have their own color temperature.

Light bulbs tend to be either warm or cool. Fluorescent and tungsten (incandescent) lamps are usually considered warmer colors because they radiate more UV rays which give an overall red tone to images.

Conversely, cold light comes from natural sunlight and other bright sources with very few or no UV rays. These light sources are typically bluish-white in color. A camera able to recognize this and correctly adjust for it is what gives photos their neutral look.

Photographers use a tool called white balance to achieve this. It is one of the most basic photography functions but can make a big difference in how your pictures come out.

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Benjamin Coleman

About the Author: Benjamin Coleman

I am a graduate of the University of Miami, where I studied Marketing. I hold an MBA from the University of Maryland. I currently live in South Florida, but am originally from New Jersey. I am a writer/editor/proofreader/seo consultant who focuses on social media, SEO, and web content. I also help businesses understand and implement social media marketing.

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