Well chances are, either your camera has the white balance setting incorrectly set, or there was such a strong colour cast in the scene being captured, that the camera couldn’t adjust for.
So what’s going on?
Well every light source – sun, light bulb, flash, candle etc. – has it’s own colour or temperature. This is measured on the Kelvin scale in degrees Kelvin.
Most people use their cameras in auto white balance (AWB) mode and rely on the camera making the correct assessment of the scene. But sometimes you need to take more control and tell the camera what colour temperature is dominant. For example, tungsten light such as traditional light bulbs has an orange tinge, whereas fluorescent light has a bluer colour.
Adjusting your camera for the specific conditions can overcome the limitations of AWB and can result in a much more natural looking image. Try it out – you can even use the wrong white balance setting for creative purposes to intentionally create a colour cast on your images.
White balance and associated topics are covered on our Next Steps courses and in more detail on our Lighting Basics course where we look at using natural light and artificial light sources including on and off camera flash and how to balance mixed light sources.