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    How to Use White Balance in Photography

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    maxim9691

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    How to Use White Balance in Photography

    Post by maxim9691 on Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:36 pm

    How to Use White Balance in Photography

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    Photo captured by Aleksey Yurchenko (Click Image to See More From Aleksey Yurchenko)
    Every digital camera has a White Balance or Automatic White Balance(AWB) setting in the camera menu. But how many of us actually use it oreven know what it is for? Fortunately, most manufacturers have theAutomatic White Balance pre-set in their cameras when they are shippedout. So most consumers are using it even if they are not aware of it.What is the purpose of WhiteBalance?

    Sometimes when we take a picture, the overall color tint of theimage might be yellowish, blueish, or something in between. In anycase, that overcast tint was not visible when the picture was taken andmany times it can ruin a very good image.The purpose of white balance is to eliminate the discoloration in animage due to certain colors in the scene having more intensity and/or ahigher or lower “temperature”.Thats right…colors in a scene have temperatures. Blue light has ahigh color temperature and red light has a low color temperature. Don’tlook at these temperatures as hot or cold as in when we touchsomething. Rather, look at it as a measurement of the intensity of thelight. The intensity of the light is measured by what is called theKelvin scale. See the examples below.Source of Light Color Temperature


    • Tungsten/Incandescent Light 2.500-3,000 K (Kelvin)
    • Clear Day (Mid day outside) 5,000-6,500 K
    • Shade or Heavily overcast day 9,000-10,000 K
    These are very approximately values. As you can see, a tungstenlight (regular light bulb) has a pretty cool color temperature. Itscolor temperature is closer to the red side of the color spectrum. Ifyou take a picture with a lightbulb as the only light source, the imagewill have a slight orange /yellowish tint. (a red tint would be theextreme but the lightbulb temperature is not that cool). On the otherhand a picture taken in the shade or on an overcast day might have aslightly bluish tint since the much higher temperature is closer to theother side of the color spectrum.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
    "beach huts" captured by Peter Humphrey (Click Image to See More From Peter Humphrey)
    What does temperature have to do with White Balance?

    When the camera shutter is pressed,, the camera looks for somethingwhite in the scene to use as a point of reference. Even if the othercolors in the scene are dominating the white, the balance function willtry to adjust that white in the scene to the same degree of white thatwe see it with our eyes. The remaining colors in the scene are thenadjusted proportionate to the white. The result should be a prettyneutral tone image with all colors showing as they should.Automatic white balance works pretty good the majority of time.However, there might be times when it might still produce an image withcoloring that is off. An example would be a scene that lacks any whitecolor so there is no point of reference.Most cameras have white balance setings that can be changed to fit aparticular scene. Try using your camera’s built in settings such asfluorescent, cloudy, daylight, or whatever might fit the scene you areabout to shoot. These settings may vary from camera to camera, buthopefully you will find a setting that will work for you.Some cameras will allow you to manually pre set your white balanceto suit your needs. Take a look at the tutorial on my website aboutWhite Balance for a tip on using a white sheet of paper or neutral graycard to pre-set your white balance.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
    "The Human People" captured by Amy (Click Image to See More From Amy)
    In closing, lets say you just want to shoot without having to worryabout white balance. If your camera allows you to take images in theraw mode, just use that mode. It is very likely you will have the wrongtint in some of the images, but you can adjust the color later using animage correction application like Photoshop.So now you know what White Balance is all about.About the Author
    Visit my website, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] for more easy to understand tips and tutorials about photography.



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