Creating mood with white balance.
Have you ever wanted to change the look or feel of your photo without a lot of post production? Would you like to make a portrait look like it was taken at sunset even though it is noon? Well you can. You just have to play with the white balance (WB).
Basic WB tutorials are all over the web, I even have a draft of one to come out shortly, so I won’t go into the basics here. But what they don’t teach you is how you can use it to your advantage, to change the appearance and feel of your photo as it is being taken.
As you may know, setting the white balance is basically just telling the camera what colour light you are shooting in. If your photo appears to cold, warm it up. If it is too warm, cool it down. Who is to say what is correct, except of course you, the artist.
Colour temperature is measured in °Kelvin (a temperature scale just like Celsius or Fahrenheit) and the higher the °K the warmer the photo.
Fluorescent 3800-4000 °K
Daylight/Flash 5200-5500 °K
Cloudy 6000-6500 °K
Shade 7000-7500 °K
The photos above where taken while I was on a trip to Oman. It was late afternoon, around 4 pm. You can see how changing the white balance changes the look and feel of the photo. The cloudy or shade settings look like they were taken at sunset.
If you want to enhance the oranges try a Cloudy or Shade setting or a higher °K.
If you want to reduce the oranges try a a tungsten or fluorescent setting or lower the °K .
If you want to enhance the blues try a tungsten or fluorescent setting or a lower °K.
If you want to reduce the blues try a Cloudy or Shade setting or a higher °K.
So if you change your white balance when you take your photo you can change the look of the photo, giving your photo a totally different feel. Remember there is not really a ‘correct’ white balance setting, it is what you as the artist wants to create.
Let us know how you use white balance. Share your techniques in the comments below.