A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding White Balance

MakeUseOf | 8/14/2018 | Joe Coburn
penaert (Posted by) Level 3
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If you have completed our beginner’s guide to digital photography, and read up on the best online photography courses, you’re well on your way to becoming a better photographer.

A Beginner's Guide To Digital Photography

Digital - Photography - Hobby - Beginner - Guide

Digital photography is a great hobby, but it can be intimidating, too. This beginner's guide will tell you everything you need to know to get started!

What Is White Balance?

Balance - Colors - Photos - Photos - Balance

Using the correct white balance is essential to achieving natural looking colors in your photos. Ever noticed how interior photos sometimes look very yellow? That’s down to white balance.

Here’s a photo with the wrong white balance:

Photo - Balance

And here’s the same photo with the correct white balance:

Notice how the first photo looks very orange, with a very unnatural looking silver on the bottom of the lens mount. While this photo could do with some other corrections, it has still been improved by changing the white balance.

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If you’re taking photos in full auto mode, or even full manual mode with automatic white balance, your camera decides what white balance setting to use. If you’re outdoors, most cameras can get this right. Sometimes, interior photos or complex scenes can confuse the camera, and it may not set the correct white balance.

By using a preset white balance, or setting the level, you can increase the quality of your photos. White balance is a setting which can alter the perceived quality of a photo—for better or worse.

Here’s how and when to change it.

If you want to change the white balance yourself, many cameras come with several white balance presets ready to go. Select the preset to match your environment, and you’re all set.


The most common presets are:

Daylight works best outdoors in strong daylight. You could also use this for any scene lit with natural light, like a table by a window. It may not...
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