What Is White Balance?

Do your pictures look like this?


Your white balance is definitely off.

Color temperature a characteristic of visible light and is measured on a numeric scale (1000-10000) in degrees kelvin. (I know, boring stuff,) But here are a few examples. The color temperature of the bright midday Sun is around 5600K AKA “Blueish”. The color temperature of a candle is around 1800K AKA “Orange” and the color temperature of a standard light bulb is around 3200K AKA “Still kind of orange”

I’m a visual learner so here is a great picture showing a color temperature scale.


So what does color temperature have to do with white balance? The answer is: Everything. Setting your white balance is simply adjusting your camera to “see” a certain color temperature as pure white. In the picture above, the camera's white balance was set to 6000K so the light coming from that bulb looks white. If I set the camera’s white balance to 1000K the light on the far left would look pure white.

How is this useful? Well, If you want your pictures to not have a blue or amber tint to them, you need to set your white balance. If you are inside taking pictures you’ll need to set your white balance for the light source available. Probably somewhere around 3200K. And when you take photos outside you’ll need to set your white balance around 5600K to adjust for the sun's light.


Since I can't give you exact instruction how to set the white balance on your particular camera, the best advice I can give is to brush up on your manual. Learn about your camera’s preset white balance settings, Learn how to manually set your cameras white balance as well.


If in doubt, you can use Auto mode, but you should work to understand the functions of your camera.