White balance is a difficult concept; but it’s one that can really save your bacon when your photos just don’t look right. All it takes is a bit of background and an understanding of how your camera operates, and the properties of light.
Let’s start with the light part. All types of light give off different colors (really!). For a good example, consider the difference between the type of light given off on a sunny day compared to the light given off by streetlights at night. In fact, all types of light give of a type of “color cast” or color temperature, which can affect your images.
So why don’t you notice this all the time? It’s because your brain is pretty smart, as the color of light changes, your brain takes in the information and converts everything to the right color.
For the most part, your camera is pretty smart too; it takes a look at the scene and the colors and adjusts accordingly so everything is the correct color. But, like most things your camera is not perfect, sometimes you need to intervene.
Different Color Temperatures
Different types of light operate on different “waves” and give off different colors. Think of how different things look in the middle of the day versus right around sunset – it’s a whole different temperature (so may affect how your kid’s photos turn out).
So, when you take photos these qualities of light can affect how your photo turns out by giving your image a cast of color. You’ve probably noticed it before on the occasions where your camera can’t compensate. Here are a few examples:
– Images taken in mid-day turn out cool
– Snow photos have a bluish cast
– Indoor photos are orangey
– Flash photos are cool, blue-white
So, what you need to learn is how to correct white balance issues should they arise.
Setting Custom White Balance
Your camera comes equipped with automatic white balance settings, but it’s not perfect. It also has a variety of settings that you can choose: dusk, fluorescent, shade, etc. You can try these settings when your images have the wrong color temperature – but the best route is to learn how to set a custom white balance. Here’s how:
– Where you are planning to take your shot, take a photo of a white/grey card (available on Amazon for under $10), or a piece of white paper.
– Head to your camera’s menu and look for “Custom White Balance” – which will lead you back to your images, choose the one you just took.
– Finally, in your white balance settings, choose the custom setting.
– Make sure you turn it off or reset it when you change scenes!
Give it a try – you’ll find that your whites turn out whiter, and your colors are truer – resulting in better kid’s photos (and hopefully more images that turn out the way you want them to).