White balance experiment with a bowl of sinigang

How do you take photos? Do you want a faithful reproduction of what you see or do you want your photo to replicate the pure form of the subject as closely as possible? They’re the same? Of course not! What the eyes see is a totality of many things: the shape, colors and textures of the subject PLUS how they appear depending on how they are affected by their immediate environment. Orange walls will make banana skin redder than it is. Yellow lights will cast a warm orange glow over a white table cloth. Cloudy skies may make a scenery appear more gray. Ergo, what the eyes see is sometimes different from how an object truly looks if all external factors were removed. Talk about how the eye can deceive, eh?

A camera has a variety of white balance settings precisely to correct these external influences. In a nutshell, white balance means keep the neutrals looking as neutral as possible. Look at it as stripping all other non-neutral lights and colors so that the pure form and hues of the subject can be captured through the lens. That’s the function of the white balance settings without getting into technical terms which don’t make much sense to me anyway.

There are six basic white balance settings:

1. Auto white balance which is self-explanatory;
2. Daylight, with the sun symbol, which turns an image a little bluish;
3. Cloudy, symbolized by a house casting a shadow on one side, which gives off an orange hue;
4. Shade, with the cloud symbol, which is a little less orange than cloudy and with bluish shadows;
5. Tungsten, light bulb symbol, casts very blue hues;
6. Fluorescent, with the rectangular light symbol, which is a less blue than tungsten.

Below are six photos of the same bowl of sinigang taken with six different white balance settings. The photos were all taken indoors, at night, under three fluorescent lights. See how the white balance settings affect the appearance of the sinigang.

casaveneracion.com auto white balance

Auto white balance.

casaveneracion.com daylight

Daylight.

casaveneracion.com shade

Shade.

casaveneracion.com cloudy

Cloudy.

casaveneracion.com tungsten

Tungsten.

casaveneracion.com fluorescent

Fluorescent.

Which captures the colors of sinigang best?