Improve Your Food Photography!: Understanding White Balance

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White balance is key to food photography. In photos of food an incorrect color cast can be the difference between scrumptious and save-me-from-this-horrible-meal-that-my-mother-cooked.

So what is white balance? White balance is the compensation that we must make in our cameras to accurately represent the scene our eyes see. When light shines on a scene, the temperature of the light will create a cast on what we are looking at. Warmer lights leave a red or orange tint and cooler lights leave a bluer tint.

Our eyes are very sophisticated organs. When we look at a scene our eyes will automatically adjust for the color cast of the light on the scene and we won’t even notice it was there. This is the reason that something that looked beautiful in the kitchen might have a dingy tinge to it on the computer.

Most cameras have an option for you to change the while balance to match the settings. Auto white balance typically works well outdoors but not well indoors. The settings in most cameras include an option for Full Sun, Cloudy, Shade, Florescent, Tungsten, Flash, or similar settings.

Make sure you are using the option that makes the whites in your photo, look white on the screen.

If you are having a hard time finding which setting is the best, take a white napkin or plate and try each of the different settings until the white looks whitest on the screen. If you have a DSLR, chances are your camera supports custom white balance, check your manual.

More Resources:

Fantastic White Balance Tutorial from Spicie Foodie
Tips for DSLR shooters and White Balance by Nicolesy.


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