Have you ever noticed that some of your digital images come out tinted blue, yellow, or orange?
This is because different sources of light have a different spectrum of color. The naked eye automatically makes these changes when moving from the sunny outdoors into the florescent or tungsten lights inside the home. The red shirt looks the same inside as it did outside, regardless of the lighting, through your eyes. But the transition of light is not so simple for our digital cameras.
The change of color spectrum, based on light source, it what white balance is all about. While our eyes adjust white balance automatically, digital cameras need to be manually set to make adjustments to different lighting conditions. White balance controls temperature ranges varying from very cool light blue to the warm colors of a setting sun.
Adjusting white balance
Individual cameras have different settings to control white balance, but most have basic preset values as a starting point. Camera users should consult their camera’s owner’s manual to see how to adjust the white balance in their individual camera.
Common white balance presets found on most digital cameras:
- Auto- the camera takes its best guess on lighting for individual images.
- Tungsten- incandescent lighting/ common home light bulbs. The tungsten setting will cool down colors in your images.
- Fluorescent- compensates for the cool light of fluorescent bulb and will warm up your shots.
- Daylight/Sunny- a basic, auto detection setting.
- Cloudy/Shade- will warm up colors a bit more than the “daylight” mode.
- Flash- warms up the cool blast of flash bulbs.
These presents will normally produce accurate color results. But if you find yourself in tricky lighting, most digital SLR cameras allow for more manual adjustments. Consult your camera’s individual manual for detailed instructions on how to set your particular camera.