Understanding White Balance Photography
Have you ever taken a photograph and it turned out yellow, or blue, or even green? And that wasn’t the look you were going for? The white balance on your image may be off, but what exactly is white balance? Below we explain what it is and how to adjust for it.
What is Color Temperature
Color temperature refers to the lighting for your photo. Neutral lighting is the lighting you would see from daylight at noon. This is the lighting temperature that you try to recreate in your photos. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K), with daylight sunlight at noon measuring about 5500 K.
Color Temperature Ranges
When you are looking at different scenes, the lighting will look “neutral.” This is because your brain automatically compensates for differences in lighting. Your brain will make it look “neutral.” However, your camera will not automatically adjust the light.
Light comes in “warm” and “cool” colors. Warm colors are lower than 5500K and will appear with a yellow or warm tint. Cool colors are lower on the Kelvin spectrum, higher than 5500K, and will appear with a blue or cool tint.
Different Types of Lighting
Warm lighting might be in the form of candlelight, tungsten, fluorescent, or at sunrise/sunset. The color temperatures for these lighting sources range from 1500K-3400K.
Cool lighting might be in the form of an overcast sky or cloudy day. The color temperatures that are for cooler light range from 5500K-12000K.
How to Adjust for Different Light
Your DSLR camera allows you to adjust for different types of light by adjusting the White Balance. Adjusting it is a way for you to adjust back to the neutral light of daylight sunshine. If your light source is warm (tungsten, fluorescent), you will want to adjust to make it cooler. Alternatively, if your light source is cool (a cloud day), you will want to adjust to make it warmer. White balance adjustment in your camera allows you to do this.
For example, if your light source is too warm, and you don’t adjust it, your photos will turn out yellow or maybe green. You will want to adjust your white balance on the camera to be around 3000K.
Color Temperature vs. White Balance
This can be a bit confusing. Remember color temperature and white balance are actually not the same things. Color temperature is the temperature of the color. Warmer colors are lower Kelvin numbers, below 5000K; and cooler color temperatures are higher Kelvin numbers, above 5500K.
White balance is used to “balance” the color temperature. When adjusting your white balance, if you want to make your image “cooler” or less yellow/warm, you use a lower Kelvin number to cool it down. In this case, you would use something less than 5500K for your setting to “cool it down.” If you want to “warm-up” the image or less blue, you would change the white balance to a number higher than the neutral 5500K.
You are actually adding the opposite color temperature to your “cool” or “warm” image when using white balance. So 1500K is actually a cool white balance number, rather than a cool color temperature.
Auto White Balance
If you don’t want to adjust the white balance manually, you can use the auto setting on your camera. It will adjust the best it can to get the lighting to “neutral.” Even better, if you shoot your photos in RAW, then you can also do post-processing in Lightroom or Photoshop for the color temperature of your image.
Now that you have your images looking great with no unwanted tints, let us print out those images to share with your family and friends. You can get them printed and put onto media such as DVDs or CDs. Contact us, let us partner with you to get the best images and prints possible.