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WHITE BALANCE (IN A NUTSHELL!)

Article by- Chinar Tekchandani & Apurv Jadhav

From the meaning and importance of white balance to the meaning of all the white balance options, this article covers some important aspects that will help you produce aesthetically pleasing photos.

Let’s start off with understanding what white balance is!

White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic colour casts and thereby making objects which appear white in person, look white in photos. In simpler words, it prevents the photo to look unreal in terms of colour and colour casts.

Proper camera white balance is supposed to take into account the ‘colour temperature’ of the light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of the white light. It is measured in the unit Kelvin (K) and is a physical property of light. The scale usually goes from 1000K to 10,000K and Kelvin temperatures for commercial and residential lighting applications fall somewhere on the scale of 2000K-6500K.

There’s a difference between white balance and colour temperature but they’re completely related to each other. When you’re adding balance, you’re adding opposite colour temperature than the original one to your image.

Let’s understand the different types of white balance settings available.

1. Auto

    The camera chooses the best colour temperature based on the scene and lighting conditions at a particular time. The camera decides the WB by considering the lighting and colour which dominates the total frame and one doesn’t need to think much. There is a drawback of using auto mode because when a certain colour dominates the frame, the camera misunderstands it as a colour cast and tries to compensate by boosting the opposite colour temperature which makes the image appear unpleasant.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

2. Daylight

The colour temperature is set at 5600K. This mode is used during normal daylight settings while shooting outdoors. This mode is usually how a human eye would perceive their surroundings and the camera would see the same.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

3. Cloudy

    The cooler temperature of this setting is 6000K. It is slightly warmer than daylight and helps to counter the blue hues coming from the overcast sky. The best use of it can be made during gloomy weather days.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

4. Shade

    Set at 7000K, this adds a warmer hue to your photos to counter the blues of shade. It is basically the opposite of tungsten and is best used in shade outdoors.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

5. Fluorescent

    This is set at 4000K and is warmer than daylight to counter the effects of fluorescent lighting. It is best used indoors under whiter lights.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

6. Tungsten/Incandescent

    It adds blue to your pictures to counter the yellow of tungsten. It’s set at 3200K and is best used indoors around warm interior lights.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

6. Flash

    It adds warmth to the photo to counter the blue of the flash. It is used when the flash of a camera is on and you don’t want to wash out your subject due to the brightness caused by the flash.

Image credit: Apurv Jadhav

The importance of white balance shouldn’t be underestimated. Even a small change can make a big difference.

So, let’s move forward and try to understand why white balance is so important.

  • Understanding white balance is the key to reproducing colours in images as they’re seen in real life.
  • By setting the optimal white balance on your camera or adjusting it later, during post processing, you will be able to accurately display colours for images that are/ were shot in a wide variety of different lighting situations.
  • You can add a certain mood by choosing the correct white balance setting.
  • You can also create pre-visualized dreamy or unrealistic scenes using the right kind of white balance.

We hope this article helps you use the white balance settings correctly.

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