Use White Balance Settings Creatively

Find your picture's true colors

The White Balance (WB) setting on your digital camera is designed to enable you toshoot an  image in which the colors appear normal, i.e. whites look whitewith no color tint.

Most cameras have several white balance settings, typically an autosetting in addition to sunny, cloudy and shade settings.

Sometimes using the "wrong" white balance you can make an image look better.For example, the sunset image looks a little washed out in Auto WB mode,slightly better in Sunny WB mode, but best in Shade WB mode.  In the horse and cart image,  "auto" WB gives the coolest image,with Sunny and Cloudy yielding progressively warmer (and I thinkbetter looking) images.

Here are some typical color temperatures for WB settings:

  • Auto -  adjusts between 3000K-7000K based on the image
  • Sunny - fixed at 5200K
  • Cloudy -  fixed at 6000K
  • Shade -  fixed at 7000K

These setting take into account the color temperature (K) of the light,which is a way of expressing the relative blue-red balance of the illumination. If youchose a color temperature which is higher than that required for accurate white balance,the image will appear warmer, while if you choose a lower color temperature it will appear cooler.

While you can make post exposure color adjustments using Adobe Photoshop similar to the ones described here, you can usethis technique in-camera to produce ready-to-print JPEGs in the color you prefer.


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