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Essential facts about Color Temperature and White Balance in Photography

White balance is a fundamental concept in photography that beginners must understand early on. Essentially, it’s a camera function that accurately represents colors in a photograph, mirroring real-life hues as closely as possible. If the white balance isn’t properly adjusted, colors may appear off, leading to unrealistic tones. This is particularly crucial in portrait photography, where incorrect white balance can distort the natural skin tones of subjects.

Color Temperature and White Balance In Photography

White balance in photography is closely tied to color temperature. To adjust the white balance accurately, you must understand the color temperature distinctions among various light sources. Color temperature refers to the temperature at which a black body emits radiation of the same color as the light. Each light source emits its unique hue and has its specific color temperature, measured in Kelvin. Here are some examples of the color temperatures of different light sources:

white balance in photography

Our brain processes visual information to allow us to perceive colors accurately, regardless of the lighting conditions. We consistently see white as white. However, white balance in photography ensures that colors are reproduced correctly. Here’s a simple experiment to illustrate: take a white sheet of paper and observe it outdoors on a cloudy and sunny day, as well as indoors in daylight and evening light. In each case, you’ll perceive it as a white sheet. Then, take photos of the same white sheet under these different lighting conditions and examine the results. You’ll notice that the photos look different from what you saw in person, highlighting the importance of white balance in achieving accurate color reproduction in photography.

different color temperature

Modern professional SLR cameras have advanced Auto White Balance modes that effectively determine the color temperature of the surrounding environment. However, if an error does occur, you can correct it by editing the photo in Lightroom. 

auto white balance photography
white balance photography color temperature
3500 color temperature white balance
overcast white balance

Setting the white balance in the camera.

Adjusting the white balance in a camera is a straightforward process accomplished by pressing buttons and selecting the desired mode. Below are steps illustrating how to set the white balance on a Nikon camera. 

white balance in camera
how to change white balance in nikon
nikon camera white balance switch
Here, it shows that a White Balance is set to Auto (A) mode.
lightroom color temperature switch
In Lightroom, you can fix the white balance by adjusting the Temperature slider, which you can find in the Basic section.
white balance adjustment in lightroom
Or you can simply opt for one of the preset white balance options.
where to switch white balance camera
If the photo uploaded to Lightroom is in JPEG format, then the preset modes will be inactive.

After reading the article, I highly recommend trying out what you’ve learned by practicing it yourself. The best way to improve your skills is by getting hands-on experience with your camera. So, don’t hesitate to grab your camera and start experimenting with different settings. 

Enjoy the process of learning and exploring photography!

Stay inspired,

Elena Sullivan 

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