5-minute photo tips: customize the white balance to save yourself time!

In-camera Features
With appropriate White Balance settings, you will be able to skilfully capture the mood of the scene, enhancing the original colours with a powerful impact (Image credit: Jignesh Chavda)

Improves: Color

Adjusting the white balance (WB) settings is crucial to avoid color cast issues that can be difficult to edit or correct in post-processing. Furthermore, it could take hours of work when dealing with multiple images, so it’s best to invest time in adjusting these settings beforehand.

BRACKET YOUR WB

To perfect customized settings, many cameras come equipped with a white balance bracketing mode. Here, you capture a series of frames, each with different WB settings on either side of the selected parameters, and merge them together.

Most modern cameras have preset white balance modes, which are tuned to center color based on a predetermined standard. However, these presets can remove the shifts in color (determined by the Kelvin value of each setting, which affects the color temperature) that we want to capture. 

To use these settings like a pro, start by taking the auto settings as a reference and customize them further to control the hues of the scene.

Tutorial

1. Use Auto WB

(Image credit: Future)

To do this, first create a neutral reference image in Auto WB mode. The colors will appear dull and flat, but it’s a helpful step to avoid creating an unnatural color palette and over-saturated tones in the following adjustments.

2. Choose preset

(Image credit: Future)

Select an Auto WB mode that matches the lighting in the scene, while also boosting the hues. Here, for example, you can choose between Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent and Fluorescent settings, and these will result in a noticeable improvement.

3. Customize WB

(Image credit: Future)

To achieve the best possible color palette, either select the appropriate preset or switch to custom white balance (sometimes called Kelvin Control) and select a color temperature that’s similar to the preset, and add more specific tonal customization.

Image

This article originally appeared in Digital Photographer, a monthly magazine, and the kitbag essential for pros, enthusiasts, and amateurs alike!

Inside, you'll find practical guides, shooting tips, and techniques from working photographers, plus all the latest industry news.

Check out our explainer on what is white balance, along with other useful photography tips to get the most out of your camera.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Kim Bunermann
Technique Editor

Kim is the Technique Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine. She specializes in architecture, still life and product photography and has a Master's degree in Photography and Media with a distinction from the FH Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. While studying, Kim came to the UK for an exchange term at the London College of Communication. She settled in the UK and began her career path by joining Future. Kim focuses on tutorials and creative techniques, and particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring photographers who concentrate on a range of fascinating subjects including women in photography, the climate crisis; the planet, its precious creatures and the environment.