Have you ever taken a picture of a beautiful winter scene and been disappointed to discover the crisp, white snow came out with a bluish tint? This is the kind of situation your digital camera’s white balance is meant to prevent.
The white balance is a sensor that analyzes the lighting conditions and colors of a scene and adjusts so the white in the picture appears white. This helps insure the other colors appear as natural as possible. This is one advantage digital photography has over tradition film. With film, you buy with a certain lighting condition in mind. If that changes, you need to either change your film or hope you can fix any errors in post-production.
Most digital cameras allow you to use either automatic white balance or choose between several preset conditions such as full sun, cloudy day and so forth. Automatic white balance will work in most conditions. There may be times, however when you want to “warm” up a picture to enhance the color, such as for portraits or sunsets. The best way to do this is set your camera’s white balance to “cloudy”. This will deepen the colors and add a glowing quality to portraits. It will take a beautiful sunset and enhance it to the point of incredible.
Practice taking the same photo with different white balance settings to get a feel for the changes each setting evokes. Keep notes until you have a good idea of what each setting does. In time, you will come to automatically sense which setting is best for your particular situation.
White balance is a small setting that can make big changes in your finished photos. Make it your friend and you will no longer have to worry about faded sunsets or blue snow.