Learn The Basics of White Balance and Color Temperature

For some beginners — and maybe for some, more advanced enthusiasts — the concepts of color temperature and white balance might be a little confusing. This video, from professional photographer, Omar Gonzales, goes a long way to shedding some light on the subject.

While an accurate white balance ensures that colors are represented in a realistic fashion, Kelvins (K), is used to actually measure the color of a light source, from warm to cool. Using Captain America, a Color Checker Passport, and a simple lighting setup, this video will tell you all the basics of color temperature and white balance in photography.

Almost all lighting situations are different, especially if you take photos in various indoor settings. Outdoor scenarios are much easier to predict — shade has a cooler temperature, midday sun is in the middle or "white," and evening sunshine is warmer. However, depending on your in-camera settings, the straight-out-of-camera image could look vastly different from the actual color of a scene. Sure, as long as you shoot in raw format all of this can corrected afterwards, but it's just easier to get it right in-camera.

Dealing with indoor mixed lighting situations is much more difficult, and this really is where having a firm grasp of how color temperature and white balance work is important. The best way to learn, of course, is to experiment, like Gonzales does in his video. Find something that is a pure a white as you can find, like a sheet of printing paper, and cast various light sources over it while adjusting your camera's white balance settings. You might be surprised by how much you learn about the light sources around your home.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Mike is a landscape and commercial photographer from, Co. Kerry, Ireland. In his photographic work, Mike tries to avoid conveying his sense of existential dread, while at the same time writing about his sense of existential dread. The last time he was in New York he was mugged, and he insists on telling that to every person he meets.

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