Each device we use has an amount of color it is capable of capturing; it has limits. Your camera, monitor and printer all handle color in different ways and all have different limits to the amount of color they can display, record or capture. This is known as Color Space. Color modes are express through standard models however so that different devices can understand what they are suppose to do with the information.
Most labs print in the sRGB mode even though it is the smallest color space. The Internet also uses sRGB as its color standard. Because of these two uses, your camera as well as iPhoto and other consumer image editing programs are set to handle color within the sRGB color space. Your chip is capable of recording twice the amount of color that can be expressed in sRGB. Your chip (in RAW mode) is operating in ProPhoto RGB, a HUGE color space.
If you choose to continue to shoot pictures in jpeg mode, you should set your camera's color space and your image editing software to Adobe98 RGB. A bigger color space that will give you more color to work with.
White Balance is essentially changing the camera's expectations of the color it is receiving so it can make whites that are white, grays that are gray and colors that are true.
There is a menu of White Balance options (see below). Your camera default setting is AWB or Auto White Balance. However my teacher likes to call it Always Wrong Balance because it will get your pictures close but is never perfect.
Setting the White Balance for each situation that you encounter will improve your pictures. Using your camera's custom white balance will improve them dramatically. In the custom white balance setting, a reference frame is shot of a gray card. The camera then calculates the new white balance based on what it sees. This eliminates color variations between light sources and gives you an accurate color rendition every time.
White Balance as a Creative Tool
- Portraits often benefit from a bit more warmth, but too much can render skin tones that are yellow. Warm color can also make pictures feel more nostalgic. And any sunset can be enhanced by setting the camera to the open shade white balance. Blue tones can enhance a cold feeling, fastness or apprehension. In the hour before the sun comes up, using the sunny day shite balance will intensify the blue cast and add to the feeling of the picture.