White balance offers an easy way to improve your shots, even if you tend to use automatic settings on a digital point-and-shoot. So what is white balance, exactly? Almost every camera will have this setting, and it's used to adjust images so the colors are more accurate. Below, we've outlined the basics of white balance, and how anyone can adjust it for more precise results.
Sometimes, photos can have a distinct tint to them, where one color is dominating the frame. This is called a "color cast", and every light source in a photo has a particular cast (or temperature) to it. For example, fluorescent bulbs generally create a bluish cast, while candlelight produces a reddish, natural cast. All of these light sources fall on a temperature scale, which ranges from candlelight (around 2000 Kelvin) to a perfectly blue sky (15,000K and up). The average household bulb produces about 2500K, and it creates an orangish color cast.
How to Adjust White Balance
In many cases, it's difficult to tell a photo's color temperature because our eyes adjust to whatever we're currently looking at. In order to make accurate adjustments and balance the temperature, you'll need to warm up an overly cool scene, or cool down a warm scene. Ultimately, there is no "perfect" white balance, and it all depends on your creative goals. Here are some common WB settings to get you started:
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