Have you ever wondered what the white balance (WB) button on your digital camera is and how to use it? White balance control is important for keeping your photos consistently color correct.
Different light sources provide a different temperature of light. This results in different colors when recorded on film or digital sensors. The white balance function is designed to give a neutral gray mid tone when exposing under these various light sources, providing precise color control from frame to frame. The chart below shows the various light sources and their color temperatures.
White balance modes are designated by a set of standard symbols. The following chart matches the symbol with the light source.
To achieve a neutral tone under various light sources, you must set the WB to the type of lighting that you are shooting in. When shooting in mixed light sources such as tungsten and daylight, you must choose the WB setting that will give you the result you are looking for. Combining mixed lighting, however, can create dramatic images. There will be times when you may need to compromise. Of course, you can also use these settings for effect and mood.
© Shawn Gust 2007
The above digital image was made inside a vehicle in the middle of a sunny day. I used the Tungsten WB setting and slight underexposure for the cool, blue mood.
Bernadette, bartender . Coeur d'Alene, ID . 2007
© Shawn Gust 2007
The above image was made on daylight balanced film. There was a small window at the end of the bar that provided enough daylight to keep her skin tones correct. The various lighting surrounding the subject provided a colorful, interesting environment. How many and what types of light sources can you identify in this image?
Charts courtesy of Cambridge in Colour © Sean T. McHugh