Sunday, January 20, 2019


Have you ever taken a picture that after you take it appears to have some sort of bluish, greenish or even an orange like tint? Yeah, for me, more than once. You see, an object’s colour is affected by the light under which it is viewed. We are able to see the actual colour because our eyes and brain compensate for the different lighting conditions. White objects, therefore, appear white to us whether viewed in the sunlight or in the shade, indoors or outdoors, under incandescent or fluorescent light. The camera does not compensate for this and therefore needs to be set.
White balance is balancing any colour cast or tints in an image so that objects that appear white in person also appear white in the image. It is one of the camera settings that compensates for the lightning conditions. It can also be employed to warm or cool colours for artistic effects.
Setting white balance is quite easy. The hard part is understanding when and why you should choose a particular setting.
When you set white balance, the camera identifies a white object in the scene and tries to make it appear white. In the process, the tint or colour that hinders the white from appearing as such is removed from the whole image. It works under the assumption that if the white is correctly captured so will other colours.
Understanding white balance
White balance is usually set to auto mode when you open your phone camera.
  • Auto White Balance/AWB
What happens here is that your camera reads the colour temperature (intensity of the light source) and chooses a setting in its collection or any pre-programmed adjustments. It is a good solution when the scene has one type of lighting and there is a prominent white or neutral subject in the scene.
It is good though to do manual white balance setting in some cases. Some manual settings are:
  • Incandescent
This is best for traditional household bulbs. Light from the incandescent/tungsten bulbs appears more orange than even daylight thus this setting adds a little blue to the picture.
  • Daylight/Sunny
This is good when taking pictures under direct sunlight.
  • Fluorescent
This prevents photos taken in fluorescent light from having a sort of green hue.
  • Cloudy
This is good for taking outdoor shots. A cloudy day seems a little blue. This setting adds a bit of warmth to the light in your scene.
  • Shade
Shots taken in the shade may appear a little blue making this good for them as it warms them up.
  • Warm Fluorescent
Shots taken under warm fluorescent light are orange-like in colour and this settings adds a blue to cool the colour temperature.
Not all phone cameras have all the settings above but they may have some. If you have an unwanted tint or hue in your picture, take note of your light source and tweak your settings accordingly. When you do that, you can pre-view it before you take your shot. Just like most camera settings, no hard rule is set on how to use it. It highly depends on what you want to project in your image, be it the look, feel or mood.
Try it and let me know if this has been helpful. And as you learn do not forget to share. Because that’s how it is!

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