How to Set a Custom White Balance

You’ve turned the flash off and raised the ISO.  Your palms sweat with anticipation for the great candid shots you’re about to get at that birthday party.  You push the button, and, ….What the..?!!  

So your color is a little off, no problem.  Setting the correct white balance before you take a ton of awesome pictures will save you time and frustration later trying to make the colors and skin tones look right.  You can try the presets for artificial light, tungsten or florescent, but many times you’ll find that, if AWB can’t get it right, it’s best to set a custom white balance.

For best results, I recommend setting a custom white balance anytime you shoot indoors without flash.

It’s easy, here’s how you do it:

  • Turn the flash off and raise ISO if necessary
  • Press the WB button (or however your camera allows you to adjust the white balance: Func/set button for most Canon, or button by toggle switch for Nikon and other cameras.)
  • Toggle over to icon that looks like a square with two triangles underneath it, or setting that says “custom.”
  • IMPORTANT: Make sure you’re pointing the camera at a white piece of paper before you do the next step, (I recommend carrying a folded-up piece of blank white paper in your camera bag.)
  • Follow the directions on the screen, it will tell you what to do, for example, “Press Shutter” or “Set DISP” are common directions.  If your screen doesn’t have a message, try pressing the shutter button, (the button you press to take a picture.)
  • Some camera’s will ask “Use this photo?” Press OK.  Some cameras won’t have a message, proceed to next step.
  • Take a test picture, how do your colors look now?   Is white actually white?  If so, it’s time to party!  If it still looks off, you missed something, try again.

If you get stuck on any part of this, just comment below or use the contact page and we’ll figure it out together.  I really recommend practicing this every now and then, so it will be easy for you to do and you won’t choke “in the moment” when it’s picture time and your colors are off.  You’ll only kick yourself later when you’re sitting at the computer “fixing” your photos instead of “playing” with them.

Tip:  Arrive a little early to your next event and set your custom white balance before the action begins!

If you capture the image colors correctly for your original,  then you can have a million different renditions as copies, and you’ll always have that great original to go back to.  You’re taking more control of the camera now, and with a little practice, you’ll be ecstatic with the overall improvement of your colors, and your photography.  A lot less “What the ?” and “Oh well,” and a lot more “Got it!” and “Yeah baby!”  is coming your way.

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