White balance is the white tone of your image which is affected by the light in which you are shooting. The idea is to make the colours as true to life as possible. You know when white turns out a bit orange or blue in your image… that can be solved by white balance. Normally our eyes adjust for white balance naturally, but our cameras aren’t quite that clever (yet!)
Most of us haven’t even looked at the white balance options in our camera and shoot in Auto which will hopefully change the settings as necessary. Sometimes though we need to change things yourself. Here are your options:
Auto – will cover most situations and a safe place to start
Tungsten – the little light bulb represents indoor (tungsten/incandescent) light. This light is generally warmer or more orange. The camera will cool down the colours
Fluorescent – this light general has a harsh cold white tone, and this setting will warm the colours up.
Cloudy – typically in the UK! Under colours, especially white ones, colours can appear cooler, so this setting adds a small amount of warmth to the colours
Flash – when using flash, obviously depending on the colour of your flash, the colours can appear slightly cooler and this setting adds some warmth. However, check this setting with your flash, as if you have a warm light flash this setting may warm the colours too much.
We will discuss both the golden and blue hours in a future post, as that is when you may want to keep the colours slightly skewed towards warm or cool.
Stay in auto for most of your photography and if the colours become too cool or warm then adjust your white balance settings as necessary
Shoot in Raw as this will keep the raw image and you can manipulate in post-processing, even if you have adjusted for white balance during capture
Manipulate white balance creatively! Make a sunset cool colours, mess around. Photography is all about breaking the rules