The Importance of Setting the White Balance

You probably haven't noticed when you look at things that sometimes the light is tinted a certain colour. If for example you are inside at night with the lights on, the light is probably quite yellow. This is called the colour temperature. Your eyes and brain do a pretty good job at adjusting for this and your camera does its best but can't figure it out like you can. So some times your photos come out in a way you don't expect. The photo below was taken at night with the lights on and you can see that it is all yellow:

I then set the white balance manually check your camera manual for how to do this and took another photo about a minute later. So it was still dark and I had the lights on but this is what I got:

Totally different right? The camera knew that the light in the room was too yellow and stripped the photograph of the unnatural colours. You almost can't tell that its not day time any more. To set the white balance on your camera check your manual. On my camera (Nikon) I press Menu> White Balance> Preset Manual> Measure. It then asks if I want to 'Overwrite the preset data?' and I then select 'Yes'. The next part will be the same for any camera, you take a photograph of something white or grey. You can get fancy photography boards to use but a white sheet of paper will do. This sets the 'white balance' for your particular lighting. Instead of actually taking a photo the camera works out the colour temperature and then how much it need to adjust by.

This is a handy trick for any photo shoot and you should do it every time your lighting changes and at the beginning of any shoot. Each different situation will have a different tone to the light but if you set the white balance you can teach your camera what the colour is supposed to look like. So remember to do this next time! Good Luck. Zoe

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