White balance in digital photography is about getting the colours right. The digital cameras have got a setting to get the colours as per our requirement.
We use different kinds of light for photography like bright sunlight in the outdoors, tungsten or fluorescent lights in the indoors. We also shoot photos in shaded or overcast areas. These different kinds of lights have a different percentage of the individual colours mixed in the colour spectrum VIBGYOR. For example, a tungsten light has a dominant orange whereas the fluorescent light has a dominant cyan.
So, whenever we take photos in a tungsten light ambience (in a restaurant) using bright Sunlight white balance setting the photos to look too very orange or sometimes reddish. Similarly, when we take photos in a fluorescent light ambience (in an office) using bright Sunlight white balance setting the photos look too bluish. This is because the colour mix of this lights is different from each other.
To get the natural clours irrespective of the lighting conditions, in photography we add digital colour filters that will neutralize the unwanted colours through this white balance setting. The reference here is white and when an image with highlight or white is appearing white without any colour cast, then other colours will be reproduced correctly. The check for white here is important.
Here, the bright Sunlight is taken as a standard with a colour temperature value of 5200K approx. which will give perfect colours when we shoot in Sunlight ambience. When we shoot in a tungsten light ambience, we need to select ‘Tungsten White balance’ so that our cameras will add on a blue filter to neutralize the warm colour produced by the tungsten light otherwise. This preset white balance is selected through an option called Tungsten WB which has a colour temperature value of 2800K approx. in the white balance selection setting.
Likewise, when we work in the fluorescent ambience, we need to select ‘Fluorescent White balance’ so that our cameras will add on an orange filter to neutralize the cold colour produced by the fluorescent light otherwise. This preset white balance is selected through an option called Fluorescent WB which has a colour temperature value of 7000K approx.
We can select these preset white balance settings like Auto white balance, Sunlight, partly cloudy, overcast light, shadow, tungsten, fluorescent, custom white balance and in advance cameras, Kelvin White balance to match the lighting conditions we are using for shooting. This will intern change digital colour filters inside the camera for correction.
Match the preset white balance setting to the lighting used, you simply get the colours right. If you are not able to identify the light source or there are more than one light sources in a given situation, then you can select AUTO WB. Well Auto WB gives you good colours in most of the situations. But the colours in a sequence of pictures may not be sometimes consistent. Mostly professional will avoid using Auto WB, for they need to have constancy in their photos.
For more information about, Custom WB, Kelvin WB, WB Shift. Please watch our other videos in this sequence.
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