What is White Balance
White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white to your eyes in real life are rendered white in your photo.
Why is there a color cast
The simple reason is that there always is a color cast in nature. The color of light is always changing the perceived color of objects. Our eyes automatically know to adjust for this. Cameras are not very good at this. They try but typically fail at accurately compensating for the color of light.
How to fix the White Balance of your camera
Cameras offer settings for white balance based on the generally accepted prominent colors of light. Cameras also offer an 'Auto WB' feature. This feature tries to automatically detect the color of light and compensate the color in your photo to be more accurate. However, the camera' "Auto WB" is typically not very good. It is constantly getting better but it has a long way to go.
The easiest way for you to quickly fix this somewhat is to not use your camera's 'Auto WB' feature. Just set the dial specifically to what you think the color of the light is when and where you are shooting. This is one of the easiest things to get right in photography.
Using White Balance Presets
- Use Tungsten when indoors
- Use Shade when in a shade on a sunny day
- Use Cloudy when out on a cloudy day or really any time outdoors
- Use Fluorescent light when in Fluorescent light
- Use Sunny when outside and on a particularly sunny day
- Use Flash when using a flash
As with most things in photography, once you know the rules you can break them to get artistic or dramatic impacts. For example - skylines at night look awesome with coolness of tungsten and portraits look personal with warmth of cloudy WB.