Setting the White Balance correctly before you take a photo is one of those things that is often forgotten about until you look at your preview screen and see your photo has come out all blue.

Or, you have the white balance set on auto because you don’t know how to use it correctly.

These are two situations that a lot of photographers find themselves in.  In the first instance it’s probably easiest to then set the white balance correctly and take the shot again, but in the second scenario how do you know the camera can automatically choose the right setting for you?

With white balance set on auto the camera will set a white balance based on what it sees through the viewfinder.  But what if your subject is indoors and the rest of the scene is out the window in direct sunlight? The camera will chose the sunlight setting as this is what most of the frame is made up of, leaving your subject slightly off color.  Greenish skin tones are common in this scenario.

So what can we do about it?

White balance is really quite simple.  The camera has a number of pre-determined white balance settings that you can choose from.  These are represented by little symbols meaning full sun, overcast, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, auto, and custom.

For the white balance beginner it’s just a matter of choosing the setting that best represents where most of the light is coming from e.g. direct sunlight as opposed to a light bulb.

Light is measured in what are known as Kelvins.  Each type of light has a different Kelvin reading, some light sources produce a light that is cooler than others resulting in those blue looking photos, other light is warmer which gives us a more yellow look.  These warming and cooling tones are used by professional photographers to give their shots the look and feel they’re after.  All they have to do is choose a slightly different white balance. e.g. using the overcast setting rather than the sunny setting on a sunny day.

So now that you know a little more about the white balance setting, if you forget to set it correctly (which we all do at some stage) you can just re-set it and take the shot again.  Or, if you are shooting in the RAW format, you can change it later on your computer.

Happy Shooting!

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