Project: White Balance and Overall Colour

Exercise: Colour Cast and White Balance

Part 1

Find the following outdoor lighting situations, each of which has a different colour temperature

  • sunlight
  • cloudy
  • open shade on a sunny day

For each, choose a scene, object or person to photograph and shoot four versions, using each of the white balance options and your cameras’ Auto setting.  In your browser software, compare the results for each scene and choose the one you like best and say why.

Open Shade

Auto White Balance

Daylight White Balance (Approx 5200 Kelvin)

Shade White Balance (Approx 7000 Kelvin)

Cloudy White Balance (Approx 6000 Kelvin)

Tungsten Light White Balance (Approx 3200 Kelvin)

White Fluorescent Light White Balance (Approx 4000 Kelvin)

My camera gives an approximate Kelvin value as comparison for the different White Balance settings, so to make things clearer I’ve recorded them with each image.

I decided to introduce the tungsten and fluorescent images as well to be able to reference the colour cast they very definitely introduce that cannot normally be seen when an image is made under their respective lighting conditions.  The interesting thing to me is the amount of blue that needs to be added to both these forms of lighting to redress their colour effects and bring them nearer to white.

Of the four that are meant to be compared in this exercise there are two which I consider good; the first is Daylight White Balance, which appears to me as the most accurate colour of the scene. The second is Shade White Balance, which although not as accurate in colour as the first, the tones appear warmer and so have an attraction.  To choose one, I’d have to say Daylight White Balance just has it as I prefer to see images nearer to natural before working on them myself.

The Auto White Balance image is very good but the shadows appear a little too white by comparison.  Having said that, I tend to set my camera on Auto White Balance as a matter of course, and because I shoot using RAW, I can then adjust as I feel fit in post-processing, knowing that the camera has more than likely got it near enough correct and that saves one more setting I need to consider before making any image.

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