Equine Photography Tips- What is White Balance?

Have you ever taken a photo in an indoor arena that had an awful yellow tint, or maybe took a photo at sunset, hoping to get some nice warm colors, but it looks blue? The reason for this is your camera cannot determine what white is - you need to tell it what white is. For certain lighting factors, we need to adjust our white balance.  White balance may also be referred to as color balance or color temperature.

I find most people shoot  on Auto White Balance (AWB).  In this setting the camera has to guess what white is and does not always get it right.  Camera models have different locations where you can adjust white balance, but you may have noticed several icons on your camera- light-bulb, sun, clouds and a few others. These represent different light sources and will tell your camera what white is, so you get proper colors. Some cameras have a K setting, which allows you to fine tune your white balance. Each of these represent the color temperature that the light source emits. 
I keep mine set at K, and will adjust as needed.


White Balance is measured in Kelvins - color temperature in light sources.
1000-2000K - Candlelight
2500-3500K - Tungsten Bulb (reg light bulb)
4000-5000K - Fluorescent Lamp
5000-5500K- Flash
5000-6000K- Sunny
6500-7500K - Cloudy/Overcast
8000-9000K - Shade/ Heavy Overcast

Adjustment scale in Lightroom


The lower temperature is the blue/cooler side of the scale and the higher temperatures are on the yellow/warmer side.

Taking a few moments to adjust your white balance will result in proper coloring of your image with more vividness and saturation.  You are also able to get a little more creative with your photography by adding a little more warmth or coolness to your images.

The images below are all the same, but they were shot in RAW format rather than jpg, so I was able to adjust in Adobe Lightroom easily to demonstrate how color temperature can effect your photos.


Taken just before sunset in heavy shade, but the sun was peaking through the trees to give a little rim light.  This is the 1st shot I took right after shooting with several flashes, so the the temperature was manually set at ~5200.   The white looks a little blue in these and no warmth in the photo.
Being sunset, the camera cannot detect white. If I had the camera set to AWB, it would have more than likely turned out looking like this - looking very blue without warmth.

With a little adjusting in Adobe Lightroom, we added some warmth.  After taking this photo, I remembered to adjust my  white balance  to ~ 7500K so they all would have the warm glow from the sun setting.

To learn more about white balance and other ways to improve your photography check out Terri Cage Photography's mentoring and lessons