White Balance

What is that white balance thing?

Most people don’t notice it, but light is not exactly white.   It has different color depending on where the light is coming from.  For example, the incandescent light (old fashioned light bulb) has an orange tint; which makes things look warm.   So if one were to look at a white piece of paper, it should look orange.  However, our brain is very clever.  It knows the paper is white; so it tries to trick you into thinking the paper is white.

So what does white balance means in terms of digital photography?  The camera tries to cancel out the orange tint.   How does it do that?  It adds blue!  Take the following picture for example.  I took the picture outdoors in a cloudy day with white balance set to incandescent.  I did it because I wanted the sky to look blue (cause I know incandescent white balance will add blue tint);  however, what I didn’t anticipate is that the light from my flash was not orange enough (I added an orange film to the flash).  So.. bad picture, too blue!

Luckily, I shot the picture in RAW (native file format).  So I opened the picture, and use Nikon Capture’s picker tool and told the program her dress is white.  Voila!  She looks natural again!




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