How to choose the Right White Balance?
Basic Photography
Amit K Srivastava
October 19, 2016

Photography is all about the angle and clarity. There are so many options, variations, components and equipment which are used to get that perfect picture. There is one core thing which you need to understand and set right before taking a photograph. And that is the White Balance.

Here is what a photograph looks with and without White Balance (WB).


Various Color Casts. Third Image from right is with White Balance



WB is a simple concept that plays a very crucial role in getting the perfect lighting for your pictures. White Balance is the process of removing unrealistic color casts so that the subject appears exactly as it is visible to the eye.

To determine the appropriate lighting for your picture, you will have to take into consideration the location, the subject and the source of light for your photograph. The intensity of the light source for your photographs is determined by it’s Color Temperature.

The visible light is not white. It is infact a spectrum of colors called VIBGYOR that can be seen when they pass through a prism or droplets of water that cause the rainbow. Human eyes are designed to adjust the color of the light to ensure that the neutral colors appear neutral and Vibgyor remains invisible to the naked eye.

Color Temperature refers to the spectrum of light which is given off by a light source. It is measured in Kelvin which correlates to the hue of the light source. As the Color temperature increases, the light tends to move towards cooler shades. And as it decreases, the light tends to move towards warmer shades.

This is how the Color Temperature corresponds to the various light sources.




As lighting is very important for taking a good picture, it is only logical for cameras to have provisions to adjust the WB based on the color temperatures at the location. Every digital camera today comes with a variety of preset WBs so that you do not have to deal with adjusting it while taking a critical shot.


Some of the most common ones seen in the digital camera are mentioned below. Each of these have




If your WB is not set right, the quality of your image is affected. Take the case of the below photograph which was taken under building lights with Automatic WB and the one to the right under the same light with Tungsten WB.




Notice the difference in clarity? The camera filters tend to apply the colors opposite to the light present in the surroundings to balance out the neutral tones. Hence the variation in the colors that are seen with the naked eye and the one seen in a picture. This effect is minimized or removed with WB.

To manually adjust the WB or go for automatic and preset options is a personal choice and depends on the creative motives of the photographer.

Decide your best WB after doing test runs with various options of WB settings in your camera. And just capture away!


Basic Photography
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About Author
Amit K Srivastava
A Photography Enthusiast motivated to empower individuals in photography
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