White Balance

I don’t know if you have experienced it, the photos taken are yellowish or the colors are not the same as the actual ones? In fact, it may be that the “White balance” setting is wrong.


What is white balance?

Photography is the recording of light, and light is composed of many “colors”. Except for daylight, which is more “white”, such as light pipes, sunsets, and light bulbs, they are actually biased toward a certain color. This can be done using “color temperature” (Color temperature) to represent:




As can be seen from the above figure, the lower the color temperature, the more “red” ( warm ) the color, and the higher the color temperature, the more “blue” ( cold ) the color. The following table shows the color temperature in various situations:

Clear blue sky 12,000 ~ 15,000 ° K
Under the sun 10,000 ° K
Blue sky and white clouds 8,000 ~ 10,000 ° K
Overcast 6,500 ~ 7,500 ° K
Daylight fluorescent lamp 6,500 ° K
Daylight 5,500 ° K
Electronic flash 5,500 ° K
Flash bulb 4,200 ~ 5,000 ° K
Morning or afternoon sunlight 4,000 ~ 5,000 ° K
White cold-tuning fluorescent lamp 4,500 ° K
White warm-tuning fluorescent lamp 3,500 ° K
Studio lighting 3,400 ° K
Quartz lamp 3,300 ° K
Studio lighting 3,200 ° K
Tungsten bulb 2,700 ~ 3,200 ° K
dawn, dusk 2,000 ~ 3,000 ° K
candlelight 1900 ° K

“K” is “Kelvin” (absolute temperature), a unit for measuring color temperature.

If our shooting environment is full of warm light (such as under the yellow light bulbs in a tea house), then our photos will turn yellow. If we want the white part of the photo (in this case, the white seen in daylight) to appear white under yellow light, then we need to set the camera’s white balance to “light bulb” or take out a A piece of white paper to tell the camera “let’s treat this paper as white.”


You can see the comparison of the following two pictures:



The picture above uses “Auto White Balance”, while the picture below shows the adjusted white balance. It can be clearly seen that the white objects above will become yellowish, while the other one is much more normal.

But is it necessary to use “absolutely normal” white balance for good photos? How to adjust the white balance of the photos before and after shooting? Let me talk about it again.



Author: Alex Tam