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February 25, 2009 - Dave Hecei
Digital cameras have the ability to shoot in many different types of lighting. These different types of lighting have different color ‘temperatures’. When shooting with a digital camera, and not shooting in the RAW mode, you need to set the white balance to the appropriate setting. Most will just use the Auto setting and get good results. For more control you need to set the white balance to a specific setting – daylight, cloudy, overcast, shade, florescent, incandescent, candlelight, etc. Check your owners manual for information of setting white balance.
Outdoors on a nice sunny day has a color temperature of about 5500 degrees Kelvin. Temperatures lower than this are considered warm (orange/yellow) and above this are considered cool (blue). When shooting in the shade, most of the light is coming from the sky itself instead of directly from the sun. Since the sky is cyan, or light blue, your photos will have a bluish cast to it. Setting the white balance on your camera to shade or cloudy will compensate for this blue bringing the color in the photo back to neutral.
If you like to take pictures of sunsets then you may have noticed that the colors are very warm. If you want to convey this feeling in the photograph then don’t change the white balance, which could remove this pleasing warm color. Take the white balance off of auto and set it to daylight. To get an even warmer look to your sunsets, and without having to resort to filters or Photoshop, then set your manual white balance to cloudy or shade.
These are just a few creative ways to use the manual white balance settings on your digital camera. Remember to experiment and shoot lots of images. It costs you the same to shoot 20 photos or 120 photos.
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