Photography Tip: What is White Balance? || The Authentic Portrait

In keeping with our recent Photography Basics theme, today we’re going over white balance!


White balance defines how the colors in your photos come out, how warm (yellow-ish) or how cold (blue-ish) an image will look.


I advise to set the white balance manually, so you'll always have the right color or the color you want. This is especially important when you photograph in JPEG (which most people other than pro photographers do) as you can't always correct it afterwards. If you photograph in RAW you can easily correct colors afterwards in Lightroom or Photoshop


If it's too much to switch all of those settings manually, keep this setting at AUTO and generally you'll be pretty safe. 


Most digital cameras give you the choice between these settings: auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, custom/manual. Try them all out to practice and see how each of the settings changes the colors of your photos. 

When to use each white balance setting:

AUTO - Anytime, the camera chooses the white balance for you

DAYLIGHT - Outside in the sun

SHADE - Outside in the shade

CLOUDY - When it's cloudy outside

TUNGSTEN - When you're inside with the lamp lights on (more of a yellow-y light)

FLUORESCENT - When you're under fluorescent lighting (the overhead lights in offices and schools)

FLASH - When you use your flash

MANUAL/CUSTOM - Anytime, you can play with the colors to get EXACTLY what you want in each situation! Personally outside I keep my temperature between 5500k and 6500k. Inside it varies a lot but I use 4500k as a starting base. 


This is just one of the solid, easy to implement tips and tricks for photography that I talk about in The Authentic Portrait: A Parent’s guide to Documenting Childhood, an ebook perfect for anyone who want to learn the basics of photography and improve their photos without spending hours and hours taking classes. Find out more here!

Play with your settings until you find one that fits your style and makes you happy to take pictures! Share your photos with me over on Instagram in #TheAuthenticPortrait series, a series for learning and growing in photography.  Don’t forget to tag your photos with #TheAuthenticPortrait!