Understanding White Balance
Many professional photographers, myself included who shoot RAW, leave this setting on Auto White Balance (AWB). This is recommended for most beginners until you really understand how to measure and control it. In fact, even when you do understand it there is no real reason to get bogged down in the science behind it.
White balance is basically the colour temperature of a scene with blue being cold and warm being red (funnily enough) but most problems come when shooting in tungsten or household lights, they can throw your readings out leaving an unwanted yellow or red colour cast.
White balance is also measured on a Kelvin scale from 0 to 10,000 with 10,000 being clear blue sky, 5600 being average for normal daylight and 1500 being candlelight.
If you shoot AWB with JPEG and get the white balance way out, you can correct it but it may be very difficult to get it spot on. Remember that RAW images hold a lot more data than a JPEG and so have more latitude for correction.
If you shoot AWB with RAW and it is out, you can correct the white balance with one click during RAW processing with the software you are using (Canon Digital Photo Professional for example which comes with their cameras).
Alternatively, and if you are shooting in an environment where the white balance or “temperature” is constant and not changing much, you can set a custom white balance for that shoot and use that throughout.
The way to do that is to go into your cameras menu and select Custom White Balance and follow the instructions. If in doubt, use AWB (Auto White Balance).
It would be a good idea for you to spend some time learning about white balance and practicing setting it and removing casts. Think about different environments where you may come across difficult lighting that could affect your images.
If in doubt, shoot RAW knowing it will be a quick and easy adjustment.
I tend to find wedding receptions, house interiors using ambient light and midday sunlight the time when I need to make the most adjustments. Speaking of midday sun, here is a very quick and simple tip to add warmth to a photo at midday that has NO sun, without using filters or any post processing.
Next Page – Evaluative Metering