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While the human eye can easily adapt to the changing shades of light, the camera is a little more complicated. Because of this, you must tell her yourself when she recognizes colors unrealistically. This is done by adjusting camera modes or automatic white balance. How to fine-tune the colors of the scene so that they correspond to reality?

white balance settings

Digital photographs consist of information about shades (brightness) and colors. The tones in the photo are controlled by the exposure settings of the camera. The main tool for managing photo colors is setting the white balance.

Color of light

Different light sources have different shades. The human brain effectively adjusts color perception to account for this. For example, when the light of an incandescent lamp falls on a sheet of white paper, it “stains” this paper in orange. The brain knows that a piece of paper is actually white, and therefore, in a person’s perception, it automatically corrects the color cast caused by the light source.

But the camera does not work this way. She captures the actual color of the light, so she needs to somehow tell whether the colors of the scene are shifted.

The easiest way to see colors in individual light sources is to take an evening walk around the city. Your brain will be tuned to external light, and when you look through the windows of apartments and houses, you will see orange light from incandescent lamps, blue light from any CRT TVs that you can still encounter, and green light from fluorescent lamps.

Color temperature measurement

Color temperature is expressed in units of temperature to which a “black body” (an object that does not reflect light) must be heated so that it begins to emit light of this shade. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin. When you heat a black body, heat gradually turns it into red, orange, yellow, and white, until it finally turns blue at the highest temperature.

Thus, the color temperature scale is the opposite of how we are used to perceive colors. Warm shades (red, orange) have a lower color temperature than blue, which we usually consider to be cold.

When shooting, you must directly or indirectly tell the camera what temperature in Kelvin your lighting has. Then the camera processor includes this information in the final coloring for the photographs you took, and they look realistic, without color shades. Although this sounds rather complicated, in practice everything is simpler.

To “warm” your images, set a higher temperature in Kelvin in the settings. To “cool” – set a lower temperature. Keep in mind that some cameras do not have the Kelvin scale option in the white balance setting. If so, you can use the white balance presets, which we will talk about below.

White balance adjustment (setting the correct color temperature)

Auto White Balance
Normally factory-set, your camera uses AWB (Auto White Balance). These sophisticated embedded systems in cameras automatically determine the color temperature of the current lighting and based on this set the white balance. As with automatic exposure settings, this method is successful in about 90% of cases, and you can usually rely on it. In situations with difficult lighting, you have several ways to influence the white balance settings.

The easiest way to influence white balance is to use presets in the camera. Standard white balance presets have names, such as daylight, cloudiness, shadow, tungsten (or an incandescent lamp), fluorescent light, and flash. Using one of these presets, you select the color temperature, which, according to the manufacturer, is suitable for the situation described in it. For everyday photography, they are quite enough. But when you need to set the white balance more precisely, there are special tools for this.

Let’s look at each of the white balance presets.

“AWB” is the auto white balance setting. Select this preset so that the camera’s light sensor can select the best white balance setting based on the color of the available light. AWB helps in mixed lighting conditions.

“Custom” – select this option to set your white balance value for the color of the available lighting.

“Kelvin (K)” (Kelvin) – you can select the white balance based on the temperature scale in Kelvin. Choose a larger number to remove the cool color cast from the images (add warmth), or select a lower number to remove the warm color cast (add the blue).

Tungsten – Select this preset if you are shooting with household bulbs as a light source. Or, if you notice that your images have an orange tint, select this option to remove it.

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