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Short Guide - White Balance

There's numerous sources and articles about getting the 'correct' white balance settings from your camera. I've written some myself to help out those looking to get true color representation out of your images.



In this article, I'm going to take a different angle. How to choose the wrong white balance settings.

Wait a minute. Why would I deliberately dial in the wrong settings for an image?

Simple.

Artistic and creative imagery is all about looking at things different to the norm or perhaps even highlighting further a 'cold' or 'warm' look in your images. Something as simple as setting your white balance to 'Tungsten' will have the result of making an image appear cooler. Perhaps next time I'm in Antarctica!

Most DSLR's have some built-in predefined wb settings such as Tungsten, Cloudy, Flash or Fluorescent. These are prebuilt settings for the Kelvin scale. If your camera has a direct setting for Kelvin temperature it will give you even finer control over the wb setting and allow you to get even more creative and artistic.

Below is a rough guide to the Kelvin scale. For those who have trouble remembering all the different settings and what they do just keep in mind:

The lower the white balance setting the cooler the image. The higher, the warmer the final image will be.

A Rough Guide to Kelvin 1000-2000 K Candlelight

2500-3500 K Tungsten Bulb

3000-4000 K Sunrise/Sunset

4000-5000 K Fluorescent Lamps

5000-5500 K Electronic Flash

5000-6500 K Daylight with Clear Skies

6500-8000 K Slightly Overcast Skies

9000-10000 K Shade or Heavily Overcast Skies

The fun part is to check out all the different settings using the same scene at the same time, or roughly.

There are no rules when it comes to your creative imagery. Next time you are out at the golden hour for sunset or sunrise, try setting a different wb into the mix. Perhaps throwing more blue or setting the wb to Tungsten or flash and then see what difference it makes to your image. The results may surprise you and push your creative juices along a little bit. I know a lot of people who will probably be thinking, 'I can do that in post-production'.

True. You can.

Personally I prefer to get the image that I'm after straight from the shot and not playing in post-production to get the results. Whichever way you go just remember, that white balance is not just for correcting the color representation but rather a tool that can be used creatively for artistic purposes.

All those crazy settings on your camera are just that - settings. They are not rules to live by.


Drop me a line or message if you would like me to cover some aspect of photography, art or creativity in general. My door is always open!


~Frank

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