Digital Photography: A Little More On White Balance

Digital Photography  WB Total

So, just a little recap, okay?

When you take a picture, even in camera RAW, your little computer inside of your digital camera will look at the image you’ve captured and say, “Okay, how is this picture supposed to look compared to the environment around it?” Or, “What is the White Balance supposed to be for this picture?”

When your camera looks at the picture you’ve taken, it will apply certain presets to find out what looks right for this particular picture and lighting scenario.

These settings are your White Balance Preset Settings. The camera will pick the one it thinks is most appropriate. You can look at your display and think, “I think it would look better like this instead.” After all you are the photographer, you get to tell the camera how you want your picture to look.

The images that follow are how your camera looks at the picture and what the presets will look like after your camera has applied its thinking to your pictures. Remember, the camera shouldn’t have the final say in your pictures, you should.

As good as modern digital camera sensors and processors are, you can usually get by with the “Auto” Setting, but you should know how to change the setting should the need arise.

The Custom White Balance Setting will usually allow you to dial in a degrees in Kelvin temperature setting, so that’s why it’s good to remember those numbers from earlier.

As a bonus treat for all the Camera RAW shooters out there, you can always set your White Balance to “Auto” and then set it to your desired temperature on your big computer screen at home without worry about your pictures. That’s just one of the many reasons you should shoot in Camera RAW instead of JPEG, if you have the option available.

So, just click on the first image below, then using the gallery arrows you can scroll through the gallery and see how the different White Balance Presets will change one particular image.



Digital Photography  WB Auto

Digital Photography  WB Daylight

Digital Photography  WB Shade

Digital Photography  WB Tungsten

Digital Photography  WB Fluorescent

Digital Photography  WB Flash

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  1. Kevin Bettencourt

    Hey Dewayne, can you remind us how to convert temperature to Kelvin?

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    • The formula can be found on Wikipedia, ( [°F] = [K] × 9⁄5 − 459.67 ) or ( [K] = ([°F] + 459.67) × 5⁄9 ) the most important approximations for photography ar 3200-3500 degrees Kelvin for an early morning late afternoon (golden hour, yellow-orange), 5500 K for high noon in summer (white), 5500 degrees Kelvin for afternoon 3pm-5pm in the summer, 7500 degrees Kelvin for mixed shade under a mixed cloudy/blue sky and 10,000 degrees for the light under a cloudless blue sky. Of course, as with all photography, you can color to your own personal taste, and for effect.

  2. Hi Dewayne,

    So wonderful to have so many helpful built in tools in our digital cameras to enable us to take better photographs. Your digital camera help and advice blog always has so much useful information for novices and amateur digital photographers to learn from.

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    April Braswell
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  3. Clare Delaney

    You gave great examples to get your point across, thanks Dewayne!

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  4. Nowadays cameras can do so many things! But, as you say, you are in charge and you should know how you want your pictures to look like!
    Thanks again for all this great tips!

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