As a photographer, you must be knowing the importance of white balance which can make or break your photo in one go. All your photography skills and talent will go to vein if you do not understand what is the role of white balance in photography and how to control it effectively. In this article, all the information that you need to know is summarised in terms of What white balance is, why is it essential, and how should you handle it.
Everything You Need To Know About White Balance: What, Why And How
What Is White Balance in Photography?
The colors that show up in your photo depending on the white balance. If it is not controlled properly, the photos will be ruined. Light of different colors has different temperatures. This temperature is measured on Kelvin (K) scale. Generally, temperature around 2000k is associated with warm colors like yellowish red color, and around 5000k shows bright yellow color. And when it reaches higher Kelvin, we get cool colors like tones of blue. You can adjust the white balance of your photo by enabling the auto white balance mode or applying a preset white balance according to the lighting.
Why Is It Essential To Adjust The White Balance?
A beginner photographer might think auto white balance setting will serve most of their purpose, and so, knowing about preset white balance settings will be a waste of time. Well, it is just the opposite. The auto white balance setting engages temperature sensors to identify the right color temperature for a certain scene. These temperature sensors are usually accurate. But if your subject predominantly exhibits a particular color much more than the other colors, it will not work. For example, if you are clicking a bright red car, chances are, that the photo will turn out to be bluish (or greenish in some cases), as the color sensors had assumed the image to be ‘too red’, and made up its effects by adding shades of blue (or green). So, you can use the auto white balance in daylight when there is no particular prominent color popping out from the scene subduing the others, but you must know about the preset auto balance and apply it properly in other cases. You will find many preset white balance settings in your camera according to the type of lighting like the Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten light, Fluorescent light, Flash, etc. It does not exactly depend on the type of light you are using. You need to find out which setting to apply by seeing the light conditions, and preferably by checking the color after taking one or two test photos. For example, you can apply the Cloudy white balance preset to click the bright red car mentioned above. It will warm your image up and make the color more prominent instead of cooling it down. But again, like auto mode, there is no reason to think that the preset mode will always work perfectly.
How To Adjust The White Balance?
To determine which white balance setting should you apply, you can use a grey card. This card is 18% grey which is a natural hue. You just need to take its photo and set it as the white balance. Your camera will adjust the white balance by differentiating between this image and the natural hue. Now set this light data as the preset and go ahead in the shooting. But remember you need to repeat the whole process when you are shooting in whole different light conditions. It is the cheapest way to determine the white balance settings the most accurately.
Each light color has a particular Kelvin value associated with it. For example, sunlight has a value of nearly 5200K. You can adjust this Kelvin value yourself to change the effects of color in your photo. Though it is more effective for experienced photographers to use, you too as a beginner, can see how changing the values work by clicking many non-essential shots. As mentioned earlier, if you rise the Kelvin value, your photo will become warmer, i.e. more reddish in color, and if you reduce it, your photo will become cooler, i.e. more bluish in color.
If you are a professional mostly working in a studio, you must invest in a light temperature meter. It will solve all your problems regarding white balance. But it will be an unnecessary costly affair for others.
Try shooting in RAW because you get the benefit of adjusting the white balance according to your will later. As it does not have a particular white balance, the white balance applied by the camera acts as a reference for you to edit during post-processing.
If you are using a professional camera, you are most likely to find a button to handle the white balance presets. Also, there are buttons and dials for adjusting the Kelvin value. White balance setting is there under the shooting settings option in the menu system of low-budget cameras.
If you are a beginner, you are advised to experiment with different white balance modes, and not rely totally on the auto mode in any way. To succeed as a photographer, you must acquire the ability to set the mood of your image by adjusting the color of light. You need to spend time knowing color temperatures in connection with white balance, and practice shooting with different white balance.
Written By Sanga Bau, Content Writer, WPC.