Sunday, 1 December 2013

How to be Creative with White Balance

Learning how to use White Balance or colour balance on a camera is relatively straightforward. When it is sunny you can set the WB to 'Sunny', when indoors set to 'Tungsten' or 'Incandescent', cloudy conditions use 'Cloudy' and so on.  If you select a WB setting for different light conditions you can produce some creative results.  The custom WB setting will produce even more colours.

White Balance works by adjusting the colours in camera to neutralise the colour cast effects of the gas you are photographing in.  If you were to photograph a grey piece of card with the WB set to Daylight or Sunny, this is the light most of use see everyday, then the following would occur under specific light conditions. Photographing in daylight the card would be grey, tungsten it would be orange, fluorescent tubes produce a greeny-yellow colour, under cloud pale blue and in the shade a mid-blue.  To neutralise the colours you need to remove the colour cast and add the opposite colour in.  With the grey card just select the appropriate WB setting, if indoors with tungsten bulbs use Tungsten and the card will still be grey.


If you can learn what the opposite colours are and how they will react in different light conditions then you produce your own creative effects.  An easy way to learn how to change the colours is by learning their opposites with the primary colours of light and pigment.   With light we use RGB: Red, Green and Blue and pigment CMY: Cyan, Magenta and Yellow.  The opposite colours are as follows:

Red
      Cyan
Green
      Magenta
Blue
      Yellow

When you alter the WB settings with the same light conditions then you will alter the colour of the sky, a sunset, snow, water and even skin tone. You are able to make snow bluer by setting the WB to Tungsten, a sunset more orange by using a Cloud or a Shade white balance setting.  Below the WB settings with their natural colour and how they will alter the scene under daylight.

Daylight:
Neutral
    Grey
Cloud:
Pale Blue
    Yellow
Shade:
Mid Blue
    Orange
Fluorescent:
Lime
    Pink
Tungsten:
Orange
    Blue

Using a sunset to demonstrate the effect of changing the WB settings on an image view the images below.  The camera used was a Canon 650D with a standard profile at ƒ4 on a 50mm lens.
MelenCourses White Balance AWB
AWB - Automatic
MelenCourses White Balance Sunny
Sunny
MelenCourses White Balance Tungsten
Cloudy
Shade
Tungsten
MelenCourses White Balance Fluorescent
Fluorescent
MelenCourses White Balance Custom
MelenCourses White Balance Flash
Custom - Pink
Flash
MelenCourses White Balance BW Shade
MelenCourses White Balance BW Tungsten
BW Shade
BW Tungsten

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