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Principles Of Art & Design

Lecture & Vocabulary

Many cameras and Smartphones use symbols to describe the type of White Balance setting you should switch to for the proper correction. 

Sketchbook Activity

How to Draw The Figure in Perspective - Foreshortening

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S8 - DAY ONE - Photography - Understanding White Balance

What is White Balance? You may not have heard this term before, but it pops up from time to time in your pictures whether it's your Smartphone or the most professional of camera systems. Here are a few points to ponder:

  • Have you ever taken a picture indoors without a flash and it looks too yellow?

  • What about taking a picture outside on a cloudy day and it's too blue?

  • If you took a picture in this classroom right now without a flash, it may come out too blue, green, or red.. why do you think it would?

These scenarios occur because your white balance wasn't properly set or because you didn't use a flash. An on-camera flash is balanced to white, so it casts no strange color, but the existing or "ambient" light in a room has color to it, causing you to adjust your settings. Here is the "technical definition":

White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo.  Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.  Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, however digital cameras often have great difficulty with auto white balance (AWB).


An incorrect WB can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts, which are unrealistic and particularly damaging to portraits.  Performing WB in traditional film photography requires attaching a different cast-removing filter for each lighting condition, whereas with digital this is no longer required. Understanding digital white balance can help you avoid color casts created by your camera's AWB, thereby improving your photos under a wider range of lighting conditions. 

In Photography, color temperature is measured in Kelvin degrees, similar to a thermometer temperature

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