Balancing White Balance

Yesterday I posted one solution to not getting real to life pictures, by use of HDR. Another option, that is much simpler to learn how to do, is just by playing with your White Balance settings. White Balance (WB) settings are ways the camera compensates for what it thinks is going on in the color spectrums… sometimes it gets it right (for example if your camera’s WB is set on Automatic, florescent lighting is made more blue instead of the actual green that it is in real life).

This is how to change the WB on my Nikon D90, it may be slightly different on your camera.

Sunsets are a classic example of having a brilliant scene that doesn’t translate to the same brilliance on film (or digital image). Often times this is due to your WB settings. Tweeking the WB is one of the easiest things a photographer can do is trick the camera into thinking the lighting conditions are different than they really are. Consider the two images below. The only difference between the two shots is the white balance settings.

White Balance settings are set to Automatic

Same settings, except this WB is set at Direct Sunlight

The second image is actually more true to what the sunset looked like. I also decided to make this an HDR image, heres how that one turned out.

An HDR Sunset


One thought on “Balancing White Balance

  1. This is one little thing that makes an enormous difference! As you illustrated, the same picture becomes a completely different image. I shot a reception in a large room with fluorescent lighting, a 20-foot white ceiling, and pale pink walls. No fun. Auto white balance was not a good thing. My poor camera didn’t know what to do. I was able to improve the situation greatly by adjusting the white balance. None of the presets were quite right either though, so I had to choose the settings manually. (I was glad I had a chance to take some practice shots the day before.)

    In addition to changing the white balance on my camera, I usually shoot in RAW format so I can adjust it later if need be. That is not always the most practical approach, but it has saved me a few times when I just couldn’t get the balance right. Some of those reception photos fell into this category.

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