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Introductory camera guide and beginners guide on film camera and digital camera for still photography

STsite's Guide to Still Photography Camera





White Balance and Daylight

Graflex Wooden SLR Camera 1948 Photographs taken under different light source seem to have a tint of certain colour cast. For instance, photographs taken at the shopping mall with the flashlight turned off look reddish orange in colour, and pictures taken under florescence lighting seem a bit greenish.

This is due to the fact that different light sources are actually coloured. This colour depends on the temperature of the light source and photographers call it colour temperature. For instance the morning sun is reddish in colour because the morning sunlight is warm, the noon sun is bluish white because noon sun is the hottest and by late afternoon we are getting a yellowish sun as the sunlight is less hot than the noon sun. Photographs taken under these conditions are colour cast according to the colour temperature of the light source.
tungsten colour cast This scene in a shopping mall with white balance set to off under strong tungsten lighting. It had the feeling of the atmosphere in that Mall.
This one with white balance set to tungsten setting. Which one of these photos is better depends on what you want to present in your photo and your colour taste.

For film cameras, professional photographers have a choice of films designed for different colour temperatures, the common ones being daylight and tungsten films. Most consumers don't care or don't know what this colour cast is all about, and use daylight film for all purposes. A good colour lab can correct this colour cast during printing and colour compensation optical filter can also be used with many film cameras to correct this colour cast. Some people may not want to correct this colour cast because depending on what you are expressing in your picture, the colour cast can add to the atmosphere of your picture.

Digital cameras are also subject to this colour cast from colour temperature of the light source. Most consumer digital cameras do not accept optical filter so it can't use colour filter to compensate for this colour cast. However, digital cameras have a different way of handling this colour cast. They don't need the optical filter to handle this and digital camera are more advance in this aspect as they do it digitally and this is called the White Balance setting in your digital camera.

White Balance is one important setting you should have on your digital camera.
Digital camera LCD display with advance white balance control
The White Balance setting on this LCD control panel has +/- fine control
The White Balance setting on your digital camera should have an auto mode, and a manual mode that allows you to set to daylight, overcast or cloudy, tungsten and FL for fluorescence light. This will allow you to compensate for the various lighting conditions and also allow you to exercise some creative control over your machine.

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