Understanding your camera's white balance (and when to change it)

Get creative with white balance when processing your RAW images – this image shows Auto, Fluorescent and Cloudy white balance presets (Image credit: Brian Worley)

Most of us take white balance for granted. We trust the camera to get the color right for us in almost all our photos. When a subject is illuminated by light, its color is impacted by that of the illuminating light. People see a sheet of paper as white, regardless of whether it is illuminated with daylight, tungsten light or fluorescent.

White balance is the process the camera uses to give a good representation of the subject under a variety of light sources. When there are multiple light sources influencing the frame, the process becomes much more complex. A portrait by a window might have warm tungsten light in the room, daylight from the window and a flash on the camera all illuminating the subject with different colors of light. 

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Brian Worley

Brian is a freelance photographer and photo tutor, based in Oxfordshire. He has unrivaled EOS DSLR knowledge, after working for Canon for over 15 years, and is on hand to answer all the EOS and photographic queries in Canon-centric magazine PhotoPlus.