White Balance


Taking great photographs indoors with a digital camera is often difficult because the artificial light sources cause an effect called color cast. Different types of light sources produce different temperatures of light, which in turn shift the colors in images either toward red (lower temperatures) or blue (higher temperatures).

The most common of these problems occur under incandescent lighting (your pictures turn out yellow or orange) or fluorescent lighting (your pictures turn out blue). For example, notice how the following photo taken under incandescent spotlights has a distinct yellowish tint to it:

To compensate for this, digital cameras have a setting called White Balance. The various White Balance settings are pretty much self-explanatory:

  • Daylight – For taking pictures in direct sunlight.
  • Incandescent – For taking pictures under incandescent light bulbs.
  • Fluorescent – For use under fluorescent lighting fixtures.
  • Cloudy – For use when the sky is cloudy or overcast.

This is how a scene under the same lighting turned out after switching the digital camera’s White Balance setting to Incandescent:

Note: Even when you have the White Balance set to match the light source, some color cast can still occur. This residual color cast can be further minimized or even eliminated by adding as much natural light to the scene as possible by opening window blinds, shades and doors.