White Balance

With every scene comes different shades of intensities and temperatures of light. The mornings can be a white-yellow cast, the mid parts of the day a washed-out scene yet vivid blue skies above and the evening a deep orange and red glow. In order to precisely capture these magnificent colors, it is important to consider your white balance. Usually labeled as WB on most modern cameras. Measured in units of kelvin your white balance will determine the color temperature that will be rendered into an image. Sometimes too much orange light in the late evening will leave an orange color cast over an image and lowering your white balance value will cool it down leaving a more natural appearance. The same goes for a flatly colored image of midday. Increasing your white balance will inject a bit of warmth and make the image a little more vibrant. The more accurate your white balance the more room you have to adjust your colors in post processing.

Now, before we go further understand two important things. If you are taking your photography seriously you should be shooting on RAW format. A larger file, usually the only format excepted in competition, the undoubted best option when shooting for print and the options of doing more with the file in post processing and when it comes to white balance, it is not rendered permanently to the RAW file meaning even if you get it wrong in-camera you are almost entirely free to fix it in post processing.

So, shooting in Auto white balance is a safe bet and the rare occasion where it does not give you what you want it is quite acceptable to simply correct it in post processing. My advice is to use Auto white balance when still getting versed with the triangle of light and then start to implement it slowly into your arsenal as your creative confidence grows.

With all this said, it is important to know that even though shooting in RAW gives you the freedom to adjust your white balance fully in post processing, if you intend to enter your images into any reputable competition the judges will crucify the image if the white balance is far off the mark. If you’re not into competitions yet and you happen to be one of the few lucky people who witnesses an extraordinary moment unlikely to happen again in a lifetime, let alone be captured on camera - you will kick yourself if the white balance is predicting a cloudy scene when your subject was under open skies.

 At the end of the day white balance is only limited by your own creativity and one can stretch the limits of visual impact when pushing the kelvin of your image into the deep blues or rich reds. The floor is yours and don’t be shy of getting aggressive with your white balance in either direction and leaving what is considered natural or normal far behind you in the quest of creating art.

Andrew Danckwerts

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