How to Select an Everyday White Balance Setting

Learn about selecting a white balance setting on your digital camera from photographer Dan Bracaglia in this photography lesson from Howcast.

Another option all digital cameras offer is the ability to change a white balance.

What a white balance physically is, is the color temperature of the white areas in your image. By selecting the appropriate color temperature of the whites, keeping them true to white, it will mean the rest of the colors in the spectrum in your photograph are also on point.

Depending on the light you’re under, whether it’s tungsten or incandescent, or sunlight, or street lamps, whatever it might be, it’s going to change. How that light hits white is going to reflect differently. So, your camera needs to compensate for that.

A really easy way to make sure that your white balance is always going to be good, is simply just throw it into auto mode. I’ll be honest with you, I shoot professional stuff all the time. 95% of the time, I am shooting in auto mode.

However, if you’re feeling a bit experimental, there are other options out there, like shade mode, cloud mode, incandescent, tungsten. These are usually represented on your camera by little symbols. However, I try to avoid those also at all costs.

The best way really to set an appropriate white balance is to go into your Kelvin scale. And Kelvin is a color temperature scale that ranges from really yellow to really blue. Depending on where you set that number in that scale, it will adjust your white balance. It’s really easy trial and error to just go in there, pick a number, shoot a frame, see how it looks. Adjust it up or down as needed, and just get it as close as possible.

So, because I shoot in raw I keep it in auto mode, because it’s just one less thing to think about.