(1) In a monitor, a setting that adjusts the relative intensities of the red, green and blue electron guns in a CRT or the red, green and blue pixels in a flat panel. An automatic adjustment makes them equal. A manual adjustment can be made to make the display warmer (more yellow) or cooler (more blue) as preferred.|
(2) In a camera, a setting that compensates for the differences in color temperature of the surrounding light. In both film cameras and digital cameras the white balance must be adjusted to ensure that all colors in the scene will be represented faithfully. It can be adjusted automatically by the camera or manually, by selecting presets (tungsten, fluorescent, etc.) or by aiming the lens at a totally white surface (the white card) and selecting "lock white balance." Alternatively, a gray card with 18% gray is sometimes used. See color temperature.
There are times when a warmer look is preferred. The white balance for the bottom picture was locked in using a traditional white card. The top picture was locked in with one of Vortex Media's WarmCards, which is a set of white balance cards that cause the camera to create a warmer look, especially for skin tones. (Image courtesy of Vortex Media, www.warmcards.com)