White balance refers to the process of balancing the color temperature to the light in the location where you are shooting, so that the colors appear “normal.” Our eyes have the ability to adjust to these changes so quickly that we don’t even realize that certain lights give off different colors.
Most of the film used in traditional film photography was daylight balanced, meaning that the color in photos taken outdoors or with a flash looks correct. Another option, tungsten, balanced film for indoor use. But anything beyond that had to be adjusted with colored filters to match the light. With the advances in digital photography, we are able to input any color temperature we want to balance the images with the surrounding light.
It’s extremely important to set the white balance in your images correctly, especially if you are shooting in JPEG mode. (With RAW images you can adjust the white balance in editing software, but the color information in a JPEG image is permanently embedded into the file, so trying to bring the image back to its correct color temperature can be a difficult task.)
The 60D can perform this task automatically, and it usually does a pretty good job, but your goal should be to maintain as much control as possible with your images. You don’t need to have a deep understanding of color temperature to find the correct white balance. Your camera comes with easy-to-understand presets and even an option to customize or preset your white balance in the camera. Your white balance choices are:
- Auto: The default setting for your camera. The camera determines the color temperature of each photo based on the available light coming through the lens.
- Daylight: Most often used for general daylight/sunlit shooting.
- Shade: Used when working in shaded areas that are still using sunlight as the dominant light source.
- Cloudy, twilight, sunset: The choice for overcast or very cloudy days. This and the Shade setting will eliminate the blue colorcast from your images.
- Tungsten light: Used for any occasion when you are using regular household-type bulbs as your light source. Tungsten is a very warm light source and will result in a yellow/orange cast if you don’t correct for it.
- White fluorescent light: Used to get rid of the green-blue cast that can result from using regular fluorescent lights as your dominant light source. Some fluorescent lights are actually balanced for daylight, which would allow you to use the Daylight white balance setting.
- Flash: Used whenever you’re using the built-in flash or a flash on the hot shoe. You should select this white balance to adjust for the slightly cooler light that comes from using a flash. (The hot shoe is the small bracket located on the top of your camera, resting just above the viewfinder.)
- Custom: This setting gives you the option of photographing something that is pure white and using it as the baseline for your color temperature. The camera will balance its color temperature settings with that particular photograph.
- Color temperature: Here you have the option to actually dial in the Kelvin temperature that matches the light in your setting (from 2500-10,000).
SETTING THE WHITE BALANCE
- After turning on or waking the camera, select one of the Advanced shooting modes, such as P, Av, or Tv (you can’t
select a white balance when using any of the Basic shooting modes).
- Press the Menu button on the back of the camera to bring up the menu list.
- Use the Multi-Controller to select the second menu tab, and then with the Quick Control dial, scroll down to the
White Balance menu item (A). Press the Set button.
- Use the Quick Control dial to select the white balance setting you would like to use (B). Then press Set.
- You can also change the white balance by using the Quick Control screen—just press the Q button to access the screen, scroll down to the white balance setting in the middle of the screen, and make your changes directly on the LCD Monitor (C).
LIVE VIEW AND WHITE BALANCE
One really cool feature of the 60D is the ability to shoot in Live View. This feature can also come in handy when changing settings such as the white balance. To give it a try, press the Live View shooting button on the back of the camera to activate Live View (Figure 1.4). Then press the Quick Control button and scroll down to the white balance setting to make your changes. You will see an immediate change in the colors of your image as you set it on different white balance settings (Figure 1.5).
WHITE BALANCE AND THE TEMPERATURE OF COLOR
When you select different white balances in your camera, you will notice that underneath several of the choices is a number—for example, 5200K, 7000K, or 3200K. These numbers refer to the Kelvin temperature of the colors in the visible spectrum. The visible spectrum is the range of light that the human eye can see (think of a rainbow or the color
bands that come out of a prism). The visible spectrum of light has been placed into a scale called the Kelvin temperature scale, which identifies the thermodynamic temperature of a given color of light. Put simply, reds and yellows are “warm,” and greens and blues are “cool.” Even more confusing can be the actual temperature ratings. Warm temperatures are typically lower on the Kelvin scale, ranging from 3000 degrees to 5000 degrees, while cool temperatures run from 5500 degrees to around 10,000 degrees. Take a look at this list for an example of Kelvin temperature properties.
KELVIN TEMPERATURE PROPERTIES
The most important thing to remember here is how the color temperature of light will affect the look of your images. If something is “warm,” it will look reddish-yellow, and if something is “cool,” it will have a bluish cast.