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Playing With White Balance To Create Interesting Images

You don't always have to play by the rules when you're taking your photos.

| Specialist Photographic Subjects

We all aspire to get the correct colour rendition and it is very important, especially with shooting JPEGs, but sometimes it is really fun to shoot with the wrong preset and get weird colours. If you shoot Raw, you can do this afterwards on the computer. 


Playing With White Balance To Create Interesting Images: Creative white balance

Gear Suggestions:

A camera where you can adjust the white balance makes life easier. This could be a DSLR or compact which has various white balance settings, including custom white balance if none of the presets give you the look you're after.

Once you've found the camera's white-balance control, take a look at your manual if you're unsure where the white balance options are, do try the various settings on offer as each one will give a slightly different look to your image. Most cameras have the following white balance settings: auto, cloudy, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent and flash.



Much of this is you playing with the various presets – or in Photoshop afterwards.

One of the most obvious is shooting with the incandescent setting in daylight to give blue-coloured images. In film days, fashion pros used to use tungsten-balanced colour film in daylight. With digital, you can try this without risking anything and if the effect looks wrong, switch back to auto white-balance and try something else.

Most cameras have the option of using Kelvin. You could set a low value and shoot in normal daylight. The effect can be very pronounced and will enhance the mood of suitable scenes. There is no right or wrong when it comes to experimenting.


Playing With White Balance To Create Interesting Images: Guitar

Photo by Peter Bargh, edited in Lightroom.


Play with RAW files on your PC

If you have Raw files, you can play with white balance without leaving the computer. Just put the file through the Raw converter again and try a different preset. It is simple to do and because it is Raw processing is non-destructive so you can always go back to the original colour images.

It is worth saying that if you play with white balance in-camera and are shooting JPEGs, the result is more or less what you are stuck with and there is only a limited amount that you can salvage afterwards.

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franken Avatar
franken Plus
21 5.8k 4 United Kingdom
6 Nov 2015 8:56AM

NeilSchofield Avatar
NeilSchofield Plus
16 1.8k 1 United Kingdom
6 Nov 2016 9:21AM
Altering white balance in post can produce interesting results particularly if you have flashing different coloured lights, or even if you are shooting a night scape, just try it with the white balance click button, I usually use teeth or whites of the eyes but anywhere around any image will do


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