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Using your camera's white-balance mode

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Category: General Photography

ePHOTOzine academy - white-balance - What's white-balance and how to use the different modes on offer.

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White Balance
To take an image with the correct white-balance, cameras have modes to help you with the adjustments. All cameras have automatic white-balance (AWB), where the camera decides what's best but you do have the option to take more control.

Digital cameras are very clever. Their automatic white-balance feature analyses the type or colour of the light falling onto the subject and tries to give a neutral, natural looking result without any unwanted colour cast.

AWB can even perform well in domestic (incandescent) and office (fluorescent) lighting but less effectively hence there are presets. More on presets follows.

Incandesent – As mentioned, indoor lighting like tungsten will appear orange so by picking the tungsten white-balance option your image will be 'cooled' back to what the eye expects to see.

Fluorescent – This setting will warm-up the green cast of an image taken under fluorescent light.

Sunlight – The sunlight setting isn't that different to what AWB can produce.

Flash – Flash can make a scene or subject look cooler and this setting will remove this and add a little warmth to the picture. But every flashgun is different so it's worth testing with your own gun.

Cloudy - Again, light under cloudy conditions can be cooler/bluer so this setting will add warmth to the picture.

Of course, you don't have to adjust your images. Some photographers like the unusual look not adjusting the white balance correctly gives them. Photographers who work in fashion for example, sometimes feature a blue tint on their photographs - adding blue to graveyards gives a spooky effect.

Here are examples of one scene taken on the different settings available.

We hope you enjoyed and learned a few things with this article from the ePHOTOzine Academy Series. This is just one part of a 13 part series - to view others follow the links below:

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