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Mastering Your Digital Camera

Lesson 9 of 51

Auto White Balance

Chris Weston

Mastering Your Digital Camera

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

9. Auto White Balance
You don't have to adjust the white balance for every photograph. Auto white balance will read the scene and choose the color for you -- determine when (and when not) to use this automated setting.


Lesson Info

Auto White Balance

now you've probably come across auto white balance. When set to auto white balance, the camera assesses the color temperature of the light in the senor photographing and sets an exact white balance value to neutralize any color caste. On the whole, it's slightly more accurate than the standard presets. However, it's sole purpose is to create images with neutral color characteristics. So it's not the best setting if you want to add or enhance color casts now. That said, I almost always have my cameras set to auto white balance, and that's because I shooting raw and white man. It is one of the settings you can change in computer as if you had changed it in the camera. The advantage is I have much finer control over setting the perfect white balance value in the computer than I do in the camera. However, if you're shooting in J peg mode because the camera is processing, the image is important to get to grips with white balance, especially how it effects the look and feel of your images an...

d practice. Setting it in camera because it's really difficult to fix errors later, the best way to get to grips with white balance and to learn how to use it both technically and artistically, is to go out and do some test shots. So for this series of tests, what I've done is I've set the camera up on a tripod. What I'm going to do now is I'm going to take a series of images that each of the different preset white balance settings I'm going to start first with the sunlight, the daylight setting because that's the one that gives us our line in the sand, the one that basically shows us a picture as we see it with the naked eye. So that's my line in the sand picture. And now what I'm going to do is simply take a series of images of each of those different preset white balance settings. I'm going to start with cloudy, which will warm the picture up just that little bit, and then I'm going to shift it into the next one, up with his shade, and we'll see with this picture again. There's just that little bit of extra warm from the photograph. We've just taken out some of the blues and we've added more red. We're going to do now is going to go in the opposite direction. I'm going to go towards the blue tones. I'm gonna move it around this time into initially into the fluorescent setting. And if we compare that to the initial daylight setting, we'll see that there's a much cooler tone to the picture finally, down into the tungsten setting. And again, if we compare this image, we'll see that there's an even blue atone. So simply by just testing those different white balance settings, those different presets on looking at them either on the screen or later. When you get back home on the computer, you can see how white balance is changing the color tone of the pictures that you're taking. And, of course, remember that the time to practice is not when you have the perfect image in the competition winning shot. What kind of practices when the weather is like this is blowing a gale is pouring with rain, and frankly, I would much rather be at home inside in front of the fire

Class Description


  • Set up your camera with confidence
  • Better understand shutter speed, aperture, and ISO
  • Capture perfect exposures in camera
  • Get sharp, focused images quickly
  • Understand white balance and the difference between RAW and JPEG
  • Quickly and confidently capture images “in the moment”
  • Become a better photographer by building an understanding of basic photography techniques


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course.

Turn terms like aperture, shutter speed and ISO from a bunch of obscure photography jargon to a toolset that you can easily manipulate to capture great photos. Led by landscape photographer Chris Weston, this class covers everything beginners need to know to master photography basics from exposure to focus.

Turn that camera dial off of auto and learn how to properly expose a photograph. With a few basic camera settings, get the most image quality and the best colors from your mirrorless or DSLR camera. Then, master focus modes and techniques for sharp photographs.

Learn the basics of photography in a series of short, memorable lessons. Chris' straight-forward teaching style is great for newbies that find the task of learning photography daunting, while the to-the-point lessons make it possible to spend just a few minutes a day mastering your camera with easy photography tips and techniques.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer that wants to get off automatic mode to shoot better photos


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


mark jacobson

What a marvelous course! What a marvelous teacher! When I went to college, my father would always ask me about my professors, more than the courses themselves. He was passionate about learning and although too busy with earning an income to go beyond an undergrad degree, continued to read 50 books a year. I still remember how he'd get almost visibly excited when I'd tell him about some special professor who taught with such enthusiasm and, more than just passion, evident delight and joy in the subject. 'Ah they're the best, son. How wonderful you have such a teacher." Well, he passed away decades ago but if he were still around I'd get a kick out of telling him about Chris Weston, the 'Prof' of this course. He's one of the very special ones: a teacher who's loved and lived his vocation--his avocation--since he was a boy--and still is as excited about it now as he was then. The result: a course that seems to be more a labor of love--of pouring far more energy and thought into the details then one typically finds in these courses--than anything else. Bravo Chris! I'm already on to your next one.


Chris is an amazing instructor who dissects theory giving amazing analogies that bring concepts to life. I have rarely been able to sit through most video course for more than a half-hour but watched this one from beginning to end. A good refresher course if you've been away from the camera for awhile or there are some concepts that still illude you. I highly recommend this course and look forward to watching his others. Thank you for the clarity and great explanations.

Sky Bergman

This was an amazing class. I have looked at a number of basic photography classes. This one was by far the best I have seen. Chris is an exceptional teacher. He breaks things down into digestible information and then inspires you to be creative. Thank you!