How to Master White Balance: Understanding and the Different Modes

How to Master White Balance: Understanding and the Different Modes

As a photographer, have you ever taken a beautiful shot only to realize later that it hadn’t captured the right colors and temperature you were hoping for? Well, you’re not alone. This often happens when you don’t pay attention to one of the most essential aspects of photography: white balance. That’s why it’s crucial to understand white balance and the different modes that exist. Trust me, once you get a grasp of it, you will be able to take stunning images with better color accuracy and temperature.

What Is White Balance?

In simple terms, white balance is just a way of controlling the color and temperature in your photos. Every image has its unique light conditions, and the camera’s job is to neutralize those colors. The thing is, if the camera doesn’t know the right white balance to use, the resulting image will have a color cast (too orange, too blue, too green, too magenta). Even when we look at a photo, our eyes automatically adjust the colors, so it looks natural and accurate. But, cameras don’t have that natural adjustment; that’s why we need to change the camera’s white balance settings manually before we even begin shooting.

Kelvin Mode:

The Kelvin mode- also referred to as custom white balance- is one of the most useful tools to maintain consistency in color temperature. The Kelvin Scale measures temperature in degrees Kelvin (°K). The lower values represent warm colors (red, orange, yellow) while higher values have cooler tones (blues and greens). You can manually set a specific value depending on the desired result for your photos.  For instance, if you set the Kelvin to a lower value such as 2500°K-3200°K, it will result in a cool image. Where as we can change the Kelvin to a higher value of 4000°K-5000°K to remove some of the yellow/orange tones.

Automatic White Balance (AWB):

Most cameras have generated settings for white balance that automatically adjust the color temperature according to the surroundings. I recommend beginning your new photography venture shooting in AWB. This mode works great in most situations, but it does not always produce the desired results. If you’re shooting in mixed lighting conditions, it may confuse your camera’s AWB, resulting in unusual looking colors. In these situations, it’s better to switch to manual mode. I

Custom White Balance:

Not every white object is white in the same condition. Depending on the light, your subject’s color may vary from soft pastels to vivid tones. Custom white balance helps you control and set the white balance according to the subject, lighting conditions, and camera configuration. You can use a grey or white card to get a good custom balance. Once you’ve taken the shot, go to your camera’s menu and select custom white balance, then select the image you captured of the grey card. Done correctly, your resulting photos will have the appropriate colors.

White balance may seem complicated, but once you understand it, your photographs will dramatically improve. Remember, different light and shooting conditions demand specific white balance settings. Try to experiment with various modes and see how they affect your photo’s mood and aesthetics. From automatic white balance to custom white balance, you can use any mode, depending on the situation. Be brave- play around with the camera settings. Who knows, it might lead to a creative discovery that you didn’t think possible!

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