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Quick Tip: How to Get Perfect White Balance

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The correct white balance can make or break a photo, and mean the difference between your subject looking natural or completely the wrong colour. Although shooting in RAW makes it easier to correct white balance in post-processing, today we're offering a few tips to get it correct in-camera.


Method 1. Choose the Correct Setting

perfect white balance

Photo by Amy Dianna

This is by far the simplest method, and just requires that you select the appropriate white balance setting on your camera. Although letting you camera select white balance automatically seems easy, it can commonly lead to results that are far from perfect.

You're likely to find a number of different settings on your camera, including:

  • Incandescent/Tungsten - Standard indoor room lighting
  • Fluorescent
  • Direct Sunlight
  • Cloudy
  • Shade / Overcast
  • Flash

Picking the correct one will ensure the colours produced in your image are as accurate as possible. It's worth noting that you may not be able to select these if your camera is in fully automatic mode. To open up this option, switch to manual, semi-manual or Aperture priority.

One final tip is to make sure you change your white balance back to automatic after shooting. If you leave it on a particular setting, you're in danger of finding that the next batch of images you take in different lighting conditions have a nasty colour cast.


Method 2. Measure Light In-Camera

perfect white balance

Photo by Maury McCown

The second option involves specifically telling your camera what constitutes "white" in certain lighting conditions. The option to start this process is usually available under "Manual" or "Custom" in the white balance settings.

You'll need to find something - ideally a piece of paper, or card - that is of a completely neutral colour (i.e. white, or grey). It shouldn't contain any traces of another colour, and needs to be lit directly without any obvious shadow or obstruction.

Head into the "Custom" white balance setting on your camera and you'll be guided through the process. It's usually as simple as taking a photo of the neutral object when prompted, so the camera can analyse the current lighting condition.

After completing this process, your subsequent photos should accurately portray the real colours in a scene, and you won't have a nasty surprise when opening up the images in Photoshop.

If you don't want to rely on always having a piece of paper to hand, you can pick up a few products to assist in this process: