Color Temperature or White Balance

February 17, 2010

Color temperature refers to the color of light in an image. If you look at a photograph you took indoors without flash lighting the image will have an orange cast to it. If you take a photograph of a subject outdoors when it is overcast you without flash lighting you will see it has a bluish tinge to it.

Both of these cases highlight how important color temperature can be regarding your images. Digital cameras have eased this problem with the gift of white balance, but you need to know how to use it properly. If you have done any experimentation at all with your digital camera you may have found that Auto White Balance doesn’t solve every problem.

If your images have weird colorcasts to them (like too yellow, too blue, greenish and so on) it means that your white balance settings aren’t working the way you would want them to. So you need to check out your camera’s manual, or go through the menus on your camera, to see if you can manually set the white balance to match the type of light you are shooting in.

Here are a few examples of lighting situations that might trick your Auto White Balance and require you to choose a specific white balance setting on your camera:

Daylight: Digital camera settings are geared towards daylight photography, but if you place the child in shadow or overcast the image might wind up with a blue cast, or if in the early evening light you might wind up with a yellow cast.

Flash: Flash units are balanced to daylight color temperatures, and using a flash might be the best solution if you are having problems with colorcast.

Fluorescent: When shooting under fluorescent light your image may wind up with that sickly greenish skin tones. If you are shooting under fluorescent lights see if your camera has Fluorescent setting in the White Balance menu.

Tungsten: Tungsten is just a fancy name for our regular light bulbs and gives an almost orange light, giving your photos a warm look and feel.

Shade: Shooting images in shade can end up having a bluish cast, so select Shade on the White Balance Menu of your camera if available.

Custom White Balance: Check your camera’s manual and see if your camera has a Custom White Balance setting. This is the manual way of setting your preset white balance options correctly.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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