Custom White Balance is a setting on many digital cameras that allows you to adjust the white balance based on the scene you are trying to capture. It is not based on preset White Balance settings and is therefore customized to your particular shooting conditions. It is not Auto White Balance where the camera takes a guess as to the proper white balance, and sometimes gets it wrong. To read more about white balance read the White Balance Explained post.

Customizing Is Simple
Customizing the white balance is very simple. It requires little or no understanding of white balance, and little setting adjustment on your camera.

The Custom White Balance is typically located in the menu options along with your other white balance options. Once selected, you will need to point your camera at a white area within the scene you are framing and hit the shutter button. Some cameras may require you to hit a different button. When you hit the designated button, you are not taking a picture, instead you are setting the color temperature. Pointing the camera at a white area and hitting the shutter button tells the camera that it is looking at a white object. The camera then balances out the colors, so that it will actually appear white in your photo, and the other colors will also appear naturally.

Repeat As Necessary
Once set, you can keep shooting with the same Custom Setting as long as the lighting conditions don’t change. Once the lighting changes, you should reset the Custom White Balance by repeating the aforementioned steps.

Watch The Light
Obviously lighting can change by moving indoors from outdoors, or if indoors from one room to the next. But also keep in mind that the lighting can change dramatically simply by turning around in the same spot. As with all things photography it is important to pay close attention to the light and how it is affecting your subject as well as the entire scene you are capturing.

Sometimes White Shouldn’t Be White
Custom White Balance is simple, easy, effective, takes little knowledge. Sounds fantastic …. but, Custom White Balance is great at capturing colors as they are supposed to be, e.g., white is supposed to appear white. Sometimes you want the warm glow of candlelight, or the cold aura of fluorescent lighting; you may want to accentuate these colors, or just capture them as they are, greenish, reddish, whatever. Custom White Balance can do this, but it would entail a great deal of trial and error, and I would imagine it would be extremely difficult to consistently get predictable results.

White Balance Options
Custom White Balance is a great and effective tool for adjusting the colors in your photographs and is sure to help you capture great color. However, not all digital cameras have this feature or it just might not be your style. That’s okay, you can still avoid using the Auto White Balance by using the camera’s preset White Balance settings. Other digital cameras may also allow you to adjust the color temperature based on a Kelvin scale for the greatest control of white balance. Using either of these options gives you more direct control than Custom White Balance. While all three methods of adjusting the color temperature are great for capturing colors correctly, using either the preset White Balance settings or manual adjustment may require a greater understanding of white balance, but each allows you greater room for control and thus creativity.