White Balance – Learn a Mode Mode Monday

It's All About Balance

It’s All About Balance

What is White Balance?

The White Balance setting (WB) on our digital camera controls the overall color cast of the image.  The reason why there may be a color cast on our pictures is because this is the way that digital cameras react to light temperature.

Every light source- the sun, light filtered through clouds, a bulb inside or florescent all have a different light temperature.  And each temperature results in a different color hue.   Our eyes naturally filter out these color differences and in most cases all light appears the same.

Digital cameras however do see the differences in different light temperatures and hence different “colors” of light.  The White Balance setting adjusts to counteract these color casts.

Just use Auto White Balance?

In most cases our camera’s Auto White Balance does a pretty good job at setting this mode correctly, however in some scenarios we are going to have to adjust this setting manually.  This is especially true if we are shooting without flash and in a particularly unusual lighting situation.

Here are some pictures I took without flash to demonstrate.  My subject’s dress is supposed to be snowy white:

Auto White Balance

Auto White Balance

As you can see in the first picture, by leaving the camera’s White Balance setting to Auto, the light inside gives an overall yellow hue or cast to the picture.

White Balanced adjusted for Tungsten

White Balanced adjusted for Tungsten

In the second picture I changed my White Balance setting to compensate for this by changing the WB to Tungsten – Much better and definitely more realistic!


You can experiment with the White Balance Setting on your camera.  Look for the WB symbol either on the back of your camera as a shortcut button or in the functions menu.

Most types of light are preset for you there




Tungsten (which just means a regular bulb)

Check your camera manual so that you can decipher the WB icons and play around with the settings to see the different effects that you get.  This works best if you take a series of the same shot, especially if your subject includes something white so that the effect is really obvious and shoot without flash.

You’ll see how by changing this one small setting on your camera you can achieve very different results.

Happy snapping!


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

katie - February 1, 2010

love it! thank you!

joe kelly - February 18, 2010

dad here in ireland keeping an eye on your tips well done

Brae - February 22, 2010

Looks fabulous! I am an amature photog myself, and I am excited that i found your blog and all your great tutorials!!! I would love for you to come check out my blog too- I have an excellent giveaway going on right now, and I think any photographer will be interested in it!


I am now following you from MBC!

Ingrid Owens - February 22, 2010

Thanks for your comment Brae. Checked out your blog too and left a comment for your giveaway! Very cool 🙂 Tweeted about it too.

Chelle - March 1, 2010

I am loving your blog–thank you for explaining things so well!

I am definitely adding you to my Reader. xo

Ingrid Owens - March 1, 2010

Thanks Chelle 🙂 Lovely to hear your feedback!

Jodianne - March 16, 2010

Thanks, simple but great tip! I agree with the above comment.

Ingrid Owens - March 16, 2010

Thanks Jodianne

So many people overlook setting the White Balance but it really can make a difference!

Sam - April 25, 2010

Looks fabulous! I am an amature photog myself, and I am excited that i found your blog and all your great tutorials!!! I would love for you to come check out my blog too- I have an excellent giveaway going on right now, and I think any photographer will be interested in it!


I am now following you from MBC!

Renee - May 29, 2010

Thanks for the tip!!!!

club penguin money cheats - October 31, 2010

I added your site to my RSS reader 😀

Ryan Ward - November 3, 2010

White balance seemed to be much more difficult to get right for me with my Nikon D60. I just recently upgraded to a new D7000 and the pictures seem to be much better balanced. I’ve been practicing using the “K” settings to get a feel for what the differences are and the live view mode on the camera makes this especially helpful.

Bryan Grant Photography - November 9, 2010

Dont forget if you dont get the white balance right on the camera its easy to fix in most photo editing software especially photo shop

Photographer Detroit - December 11, 2010

Great post! Just goes to show you, photography is a fine art that requires a unique and creative eye. Keep up the great work.

Photographer Detroit

montebello water damage - January 4, 2011

Thanks for the expressing really usefull. I would want to bookmark this site.

bryan - January 19, 2011

i love using the cloud and shadow white balance modes. i find them most effective

Trishann Couvillion - February 3, 2011

I appreciate how simple your explanations are for beginners. As someone who teaches as well as shoots I believe it’s important to explain photography in non-overwhelming terms! Great job!

Ingrid Owens - February 4, 2011

Thanks Trishann!

Morgine - February 8, 2011

Hello …. I want to get CORRECT colors. I take purple flowers, for instance, inside and out …and I keep getting blue flowers. I also do not get fabric colors correctly. I learned where my white Balance is on my Cannon Powershoot and I was told to use a white board or 18% gray board first and it did not change anything. So exactly how do I use the White Balance? Do I put in on and click first and then go back to Manual or P or Av or some other again setting and shoot the photo? THANKS so much. I love close up with flowers and plants and their colors are often not ss I SEE them. THANKS so much!

Ingrid Owens - February 9, 2011

Hi Morgine,

Thanks for your question. Which setting are you currently shooting in? Auto, Program, Tv or Av? There could be numerous factors at play here. Let’s see if we can figure it out!

Morgine - February 10, 2011

Hello! I am so sorry I missed you on Sheila’s call!! I did not know you would be there! I am practicing shooting mostly on Av and Manual. I don’t know how to use the P setting and how it is different than the C or Custom setting? My photography Meetup Group had someone explain about white balance and I thought I understood, however, in practice it did not work. So in either Av or Manual, how do I take close ups of flowers, for instance and get the colors correct. I have tried using the settings for the different kinds of light as you explained and that sometimes gets a little more purple than before, however the flower is still more dark blue than purple. The gold cloth I photographed something on for Sheila class outside, looked more orange and I had used the sunlight setting, being in sunlight and changed my angle. Still looked light orange instead of gold. THANKS SO MUCH!!

HUGS, Morgine

Ingrid Owens - February 11, 2011

OK Morgine, first can you send me the link to one of the pics where you’re not getting the correct color? I had a peak through your Flickr stream but all colors appeared fine to me. We’ll have a look at one specific picture and see if we can figure out how you can improve on it.

Morgine - February 12, 2011

I will send you some. I usually throw them away!

Ingrid Owens - February 12, 2011

Email to ingrid[at]camerashy[dot]info and I’ll take a peak 🙂

Katie Smith - April 6, 2011

Nice tip! I have been thinking how to fix my digital camera because I always see color cast on my pictures. Will surely try to experiment with the white balance feature of my digital camera. Thanks

Katie Smith
My Blog: iContact Discounts 

Pam White - April 7, 2011

I am a neophyte photographer myself, and would be taking your tips here by heart. Hopefully, I can be as good as you as you see photography is one of my passions.

Pam White

My last blog Kate Winslet’s Portrait on Auction

Nicole Parker - April 7, 2011

I never thought white balance can make a difference. People would just take for granted the white balance setting because it’s not really that important. Thank you for this helpful tip. I’ll probably play with the WB setting in my cam.

Nicole’s Last Blog: Perfect Light

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