Troubles with your auto White Balance?

written by Beckie of

I’m going to confess something…I shoot in auto WB! <gasp> Yes, I admit that while I shoot everything else in manual, often times I am too lazy to set a custom WB for every shot or series of shots. So, I flip that WB setting to “auto” and I don’t look back. Usually that works for me, because even if it’s off, it’s not by much, and it is an easy Lightroom fix (I know, I know! I should never say “I’ll fix it in post.”). However, there are some times when the “auto” WB just isn’t getting the job done. All of my other exposure settings could be perfect, but I end up with an image that’s too cool (my D700 tends to shoot on the cool side).

So what do you do if you’re in the field and you’ve forgotten your expo disc? Here’s a little trick that I admit I just learned at Prime last month…set your WB to “flash”. It sounds crazy that you would want to set your WB to “flash” when you’re doing an outdoor shoot in natural light, but for me it worked!

We had just started the photo shoot portion of the Prime workshop, and I had all of my settings right where I wanted them but my “auto” WB was shooting way too cool. I asked Amanda what her settings were, and we were set almost identical, and yet her images were coming out nice and warm (we have the exact same model Nikon). The only setting that was different was that she was set on “flash” WB (from one of her workshop sessions earlier that day). So I flipped mine to “flash” and voila! Now I’m getting warmer images that were accurate to the actual scene in front of me.

Now, obviously, this is not a cure-all for all WB problems, but in a pinch, this could do the trick!

Here are my before and after images. These were literally taken one right after the other. The first image is set on “auto” Wb and you can see how cool-toned it is. Her skin is more bluish, and you can see hints of blue in her cello and her surroundings. The second image was taken right after the first, but only after I switched my WB to “flash”. Crazy how a simple little change in my settings made a huge difference! You can now see warmth in her skin tone, the red in her shirt pops a little, and her cello is a rich brown. (These are straight out of the camera. I did nothing to these images in post, except to resize them for posting here.)

“auto” WB:


“flash” WB:


So, if you’re having some WB issues, just play around a little with your WB settings. 🙂

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed my post, and would like to follow my photography, feel free to head over to my blog, or find me on Facebook!


About Beckie

I'm Beckie, a fun, think-outside-the-box mama to 2 miracle children.
I love all things photography, and being able to share in this art with others!


  1. Patsy Pollard says:

    Very nice! I am new to Elements, am just learning, and follow you and Amanda. So, what would you choose to do to this photo when editing?

  2. Wow, what a difference. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Wow! Love the sunny warmth in that second shot. I’ll have to try this (my canon 7d shoots a lil cool as well!)

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