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Week 4 Challenge: Understanding White Balance

Week 4 Theme: White

This week we are talking all about white balance. Huh? What’s that?

White balance is the setting that makes your pictures look as true to color as possible. Different lighting scenarios may cast colors onto your subjects creating an unrealistic representation of your image. In the simplest form, an accurate white balance will ensure that objects that appear to be white “in person” will appear white in your image.

You still with me?

Let me show you an example.

White Balance | Stephanie Glover Photography

This past weekend I shot a wedding. The room in which the girls were getting ready had a mix of lighting. There was awesome natural lighting coming in from the large windows. However, I could only use the natural light if I was right by the window. The other lighting in the room was artificial fluorescent lighting {ew!}. During the time we were in that room, I was fighting my white balance and constantly switching it up.

The picture on the left was shot with the white balance setting I was using for the artificial light. I had it set for Cool-White Flourescent light. That’s why it’s blue or has a “cool” look. After realizing that my pictures were coming out blue, I reset my white balance for natural light. I set it to the Cloudy setting. I normally keep my white balance on this setting when shooting outdoors or with a ton of natural light. If I am outside and have a ton of light, then I will set it to Direct Sunlight. Once I changed my setting, I had true white balance and the picture looks much better.

But couldn’t you have just set a custom white balance?

Well, yes I could have.

How would one do that?

Well, I’m glad you asked because that is your challenge this week: setting a custom white balance. Don’t worry, I have you covered.

How to Set a Custom White Balance

Don’t worry if you only have a point and shoot. Many point and shoot cameras allow you to adjust the white balance so give it a try!

First, you need to tell your camera how to shoot white in your given lighting situations. There are two ways to do this. Buy yourself a gray card or get yourself a white piece of paper. I don’t have a gray card so I’m using a white piece of regular computer paper.

Here is the original shot with the auto white balance.

White Balance | Stephanie Glover Photography

Next, I took a picture of my white piece of paper. Make sure you fill the entire frame with the paper. You may have to switch to Manual Focus in order to take the picture since there isn’t really anything for the camera to focus on.

White Balance | Stephanie Glover Phtoography

Then, go to your camera’s menu. On my Nikon, the white balance setting is in the “Shooting Menu”. Go to “White Balance” and then “Preset Manual” {on your camera, it may say “Custom White Balance”}. You should have two choices: “Measure” and “Use Photo”. Select “Use Photo” and choose the picture of your white piece of paper. You have now set a custom white balance.

White Balance | Stephanie Glover Photography

Take another picture!

White Balance | Stephanie Glover Photography

Here’s a side-by-comparison just to see it better.

White Balance | Stephanie Glover Photography

Can’t quite get the hang of it? Never fear. White balance is something you can always fix in post-processing but a good thing to know how to do in camera.


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