Camera owners often ask about ‘White Balance’ and the part it plays in digital photography. Is it important and can they perhaps use it to improve their photography.
Well, the colour of the light reflected from an object varies with the colour of the light source. The brain adapts to all these changes so that white objects appear as white objects whether seen in the shade, direct sunlight or under incandescent lights. Unlike film cameras, digital cameras can mimic this adjustment by processing images according to the colour of the light source.
With ‘automatic’ white balance the camera identifies the brightest element in the picture, assumes this is white and then adjusts or balances all the colours in the picture based on this.
Most of us just leave the White Balance setting on ‘automatic’ and the camera does a pretty good job of estimating the correct setting and we are generally happy with the results.
However, if we really want to improve our photography and add our own individual touches to our images it is really well worth experimenting with the various white balance settings available on your camera – AWB (automatic) Cloudy, Daylight (Bright Sun) Shade, Tungsten etc – and seeing the difference they can make to your pictures. Remember, you know what the prevailing light is. Your camera can only guess!
If you experiment with these, you will soon be able to see how to make the best use of them to help your photography. For example, if you use the ‘cloudy’ setting, even when it is not cloudy, it will have the effect of ‘warming up’ the picture – great for sunsets! The automatic setting may well remove most of that wonderful glow you wanted to capture.
The wonder of Digital Photography is that you can experiment freely at no cost – play around and experiment with your camera to your heart’s content – the more familiar you become the better you will get at taking pictures that actually reflect what you have seen and which are not just ‘postcard clones’ as it were!
Continual experimentation is one of the key secrets of digital photography. It can take people some time to get out of the habits of film photography where it cost money each time you pressed the shutter button! Once again – time spent reading the instruction manual for your camera will pay serious dividends in helping you to really enjoy your photography!