White Balance

By katemoynihan

August 28, 2011

Category: Landscape

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So I have an admission to make… despite the fact that I make at least part of my living as a photographer?  I have never, not once, messed with white balance.  It never seemed necessary.  It never seemed important.  I thought I had a good handle on things leaving that little white balance set to ‘Auto.’

Long story short, every light source has a particular color it casts.  Candlelight for example casts a yellowish red color.  White balance is a camera’s way of compensating for this.  The camera senses what type of light it is (warm= red/yellow or cool= blue/green) and neutralizes things so that whites remain white and other colors are supposedly accurate.  While the camera typically does a great job of balancing things, occasionally when there are situations where different colors along with multiple light sources, the camera gets confused.  DSLR cameras come with an ability to change the white balance to suit your situation, which I’ve known but never done.

As most people know, Hurricane Irene barreled up the East Coast making landfall Saturday morning.  The night before it hit, I looked out my window and saw the most beautiful sunset in the making.  I got my camera and went outside, and snapped a photo.

Now, while it wasn’t a terrible photo it is not what the sunset looked like.  I messed with my shutter speed and f/stop for a little bit, but the results got no more accurate.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and try changing my white balance to see if that would help.  I used one of the preset white balance settings, simply because I have no idea how to create my own right now!  The result?


Lesson learned: Try changing your white balance to get more accurate colors in your photos!

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