White Balance (WB) is the technique of managing colors in your photograph. Colors that appears in your photograph represent many things. Unwanted colors which appears in photograph are unpleasant. Process of removing or editing such insignificant colors of photograph is called White Balance. White Balance is used to manage color temperature, contrast, warmness of colors etc to get the real color tones. Digital cameras sometime get deceived with light source and produces unpleasant photograph by mixing different colors in your photograph.
Many photographers do not care about this option and they edit colors during post processing. But its always worth to know about any technique that your camera has so that you can apply that feature at some point in the future even if you don’t like to implement right now.
Basic principle and simple reason we adjust white balance is to get the colors of your photographs as accurate as possible. Most of the time Auto White Balance does perfect job. But in some cases, applying Auto White Balance may produce extra orange, green or blue colors in your photograph. When we see subject with naked eye, we see it pretty normal but camera’s sensors apply different color settings to photograph based upon different light sources. For example fluorescent light affects photographs with blue color whereas tungsten light source (Incandescent/Bulb) produces yellow color in your photographs. We can correct this unwanted colors with the help of White Balancing technique.
Photograph affected by Bulb light source
Photograph after adjusting White Balance
Today’s DSLR camera has many more pre-defined White Balance settings. Nikon D90 also comes with bunch of White Balance options such as Auto WB, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct sunlight, Flash, cloudy, Shade, Choose color temp or Preset Manual White Balance. You can choose different Balance techniques depending upon light condition.
Personally I shoot RAW images if I doubt about lighting condition and then edit White Balance later during post processing.
Advantage of Shooting RAW Images
If you doubt about your lighting condition, you may choose to shoot in RAW Format and then you can edit RAW images during post processing. When you shoot picture in RAW format, you will get exact image taken by camera’s sensor without applying any adjustments like White Balance, Active D-lighting etc. In fact camera will bypass all these settings and gives you RAW images. This is the beauty of shooting in RAW format. You can edit during PP and apply settings you like.
In case if you want to shoot in JPEG Format, Auto WB does pretty good job in most of the cases.