Custom White Balance

I know you are probably wondering what I am doing talking about White Balance. Well, even before I had a blog, I took pictures of my cookies and I want to encourage you to do the same. It is nice to have a visual record of the cookies you’ve made and to see how much you have improved. I love and hate looking at my first cookies. I love the cookies and the design. I hate the photo! It made my sorta cute cookies look dull and dark. You can see them here (now be nice lol). I didn’t know anything about my camera except turn it on, point, shoot and pray that one photo would come out ok. I have learned a lot since then and I thought I would share some tips with you. I am working hard everyday to learn all I can and I am even taking classes but, I am not an expert! I just want to improve everyday!

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comThis is information you should use every time you pick up your camera. It doesn’t matter if you are shooting photos of cookies or your cute little kids. If something is worth taking a picture of, then the picture should be worth having.

What is White Balance (WB)? Let me try to explain it very simply. Think of your camera lens as an eye. Your eye needs a brain to work. Your camera does not have a brain so you have to help it see things correctly.  Light is different depending on the time of day, if you are inside or out, or even the seasons can cast different colors. Your brain automatically tells your eyes to adjust to these different color temperatures. Your camera, on the other hand, depends on you to tell it because it doesn’t have a brain. Be your cameras brain!


White Balance thebearfootbaker.comI didn’t think I would ever change my WB but, now I change it often. Take this week for example, every time I tried to take cookie pictures it was cloudy and rainy. Every picture is gray and dull. I moved to my light box named Sunshine and the photos were ok but, I want natural light whenever possible.  Natural light is way better than light bulbs. Unfortunately, the weather is not working with me. I am not a quitter! I didn’t want pictures in a light box so, I “Customized” my WB and it really made a difference! I had to share the news with you!

So what do all of these little pictures in WB mean? Your camera is really smart even though it doesn’t have a brain. All of these little pictures will help you get the right light for a great shot. You just have to tell your camera what you want. Most of them are self explanatory but, here goes.

Custom White Balance:

Auto means the camera automatically picks the white balance for you.
Daylight is when you have direct sunlight.
Shade is for pictures in the shade.
Cloudy is for cloudy days and works in the shade.
Tungsten is a type of incandescent lighting using a bulb. (I use this setting when I take photos in my light box so my pictures don’t turn out yellow.)
White Florescent Light is good for inside so you don’t have yellow-ish or orange-ish photos.
Flash can produce hard shadows and high contrast so use it only when you have to.
Custom use this with the help of a White Balance Grey Card Set or a White Balance Lens Cap.

Lets talk about Custom WB.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comWhen I look at something white, this is what I see. I had to add a border so you wouldn’t think I was crazy!

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comI took 2 pictures of a white board in 2 different places in my kitchen. I used my white balance lens cap and this is what my camera saw. I saw white and my camera saw green and gray! WOW! I could not believe one turned out green! As you can imagine, your picture won’t be great with your camera thinking this is white! All your colors will be off.

So what can you do? I will show you. You can set the WB to “custom.” Be the brain for your camera and show it what true white is so the rest of your colors will be right. I have a Canon Rebel T3I and I love it. These are the directions for how I set my Custom White Balance but, you will have to refer to your owners manual to set yours. The point is, find out how! It does matter!

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comGo to the WB setting in your camera and select “Custom.”

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comNow, take a picture of your WB card or your WB lens cap. You will probably have to set your focus on Manual instead of Auto Focus.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comThen, go to Menu.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comUnder the second little camera picture at the top you will see a list something like this. You are looking for Custom White Balance. Select it.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comIt will tell you what image is Compatible. Select it.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comNow, select OK. You are now shooting pictures with a custom WB. Let me show you some example pictures I took today so you can see the difference for yourself.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comAll these pictures were taken with the same light at the same time of day. The only thing I changed was the WB. Now some of these aren’t bad. I like the Auto and the Shade but, look at the color in the Custom picture. Photography is art. Everyone will have their own favorite. I personally like the Custom picture because it has the best color.

White Balance

The first apple picture was taken with Custom White Balance. The second picture was taken with the white balance set to shade. I edited both picture in Photo Shop Elements 10. Like I said before, art is in the eye of the beholder but I like the first apple picture much better. The color appears more natural to me.

White Balance thebearfootbaker.comI don’t want to miss cute photos of my adorable little grandson Tripp because I don’t know the proper way to set my camera. The holidays are approaching fast so if you start playing with your WB now, you will be a pro by Christmas and won’t miss a single memory!

Happy Creating,



  1. Thanks so much for tackling the scary topic of food photography, Lisa! I’m am constantly struggling with taking better photos (and dealing with rejection from Foodgawker!) and these tutorials are a big help. I finally made myself a light box (yet to be names) using your tutorial and am so thrilled with the results!

  2. Fantastic Lisa!! I’ve been running in circles with my WB and this was a helpful post! I kept having issues with my photos turning out gray and I was actually using the custom setting! I finally got so frustrated, I searched online and saw that you need to snap a shot of a *gray* card, not white. Who would’ve thunk it?! This post was great and has already helped me better understand my camera! Muchas gracias cookie genius! 😉

    • I know Michelle!! Who new “White Balance” had anything to do with a “Grey Card?” LOL I am happy you got the card so you can whip out photos of your amazing creations!!

  3. You sure explain it a lot better than the manual!! I think they assume you already have a certain amount of knowledge. Thanks so much for this!!

    • Kaholly, I can’t understand anything in my manual!! Hahaha!! I am glad you can understand it. Let me know if you have any questions.

  4. Ha Ha – If you only knew my camera – I think it only has the on and off function! :) I told you I really need to get a new one – maybe that’s what I’ll put on my Christmas list – along with a personal photo lesson from you! :)
    You are going to have the most fun this Holiday season taking photos of that adorable little Tripp!

    • Ask some other bloggers about the camera they use before you buy one. If you get one like mine, I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

      I am not the only one who will be taking photos of a new precious grandchild this Christmas;)

  5. oh how I really need a big girl camera…..

  6. I think I’m with LizzyB on this one…I need a ‘big girl’ camera! lol. But the stuff you go over here has already been a BIG help to me. Forever grateful!!

  7. Whoa…you should write manuals….so much simpler. My Canon sits in the bag, and my little camera with a white balance is the one I use…I can add and subtract red and blue to get the right color. Now, if I could figure out how to get more light! West Tennessee hasn’t been much sunnier, hotter I’m sure!

  8. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!! My pictures have came out less then okay in my book. I actually have this very camera and often wondered why sometimes pictures would come out great and sometimes not so great. I’m going to try this trick. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • I am glad I could help! Sometimes my pictures had a yellow tint but now, my color are clear and crisp!! I am proud to wear my “Gray Card Necklace!”

  9. How do you tackle taking photos of deep purple colors? Whenever I take pics involving purple shades , they end up having blue hues. It’s very frustrating looking at your beautifully decorated pieces that have such rich shades of purple only to look through the lens & the camera reads the purple tones as blue! Grrrr….Other than digitally retouching them, do you know of a way to adjust the settings so the richness of the purple tones come through? If you have any advice, please help! :)
    Thank you!!!

    • Hi Stacy. I had trouble with my colors until I learned how to customize my white balance and purchased the gray cards. It made a huge difference in the colors in my photos. I will try to explain it without boring you so grab some coffee just in case I get carried away! LOL

      The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. Different light sources have different temperatures and different hues. The sun can measure around 5600k and a light bulb can measure around 3200k so you can see it is a very big difference. Usually the higher the temperature, the bluer the hue.

      If you buy a gray card and customize your white balance, your purple will be purple! If you still have questions, email me at

  10. What a great and informative post….now just to understand all that you’ve said! I take pictures with my ipad *blush*, because I’m always in a rush (too lazy) to get the camera out. But I shall try- soon, I promise :)

  11. Argh! This is one topic that befuddles me. I took out my book…and I found AWB, but that was as far as I got. I had a little Nikon that did great WB, and it died. Dang it. Pulling out the Canon…I will try!!!

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