What is "White Balance" for a photo?

What is "White Balance" for a photo?

Before moving on to the explanations, what is the white balance and which balance I choose, I would like to discuss red, green and blue colors and color temperature in short.

Every color photo contains some part of each of these colors. Yes, exactly. The color, as a human body, has a certain temperature.

But, unlike the human body, color temperature is measured by its colors. And there is something funny in it.

On the photo temperature of blue color is higher than temperature of red color. If you have a red face, you would sweat, and anyone would say, looking at you : "You are on fire".


In the color temperature things are different.

The color temperature is measured on a scale of absolute scale of temperature of Kelvin. Any day the color temperature of the light, falling on the ground, changes approximately from 2000 K (degrees Kelvin) to 1000 K.

The color temperature between 7000 and 11000 K is considered to be "cold" (in this range shadows are more blue) ; between 2000 and 4000 K - "warm" ( red shadows fall), and in the range from 4000 K to 7000 K - "natural" ( red, green and blue colors are combined).

The cold light is typical for cloudy, rainy, foggy and snowy days or for open shadows on 

sunny days ( for example, on the north side of the house).

The warm light happens on sunny days, between times shortly before the sunrise and till two hours after the sunrise, and then in two hours before the sunset and after it during 20-30 minutes. 


During last 6 years of work with a film camera in 90% I worked with the Kodak E100VS, a highly saturated transparency film.

When I switched to the digital camera, I couldn’t get such saturated colors in source image files - until I didn’t set the white balance on cloudy. For many years I film on the street on nasty, rainy, snowy and sunny days ( both in the sun and in the shade). To eliminate the overabundance of the blue color, which appears in such conditions, I could use conversion filters 81A or 81B. They add red color and reduce blue. As for me, I prefer warm colors.


So, I came to the one white balance setting. Now I always set it on Cloudy. If - and this "If" should be significant - you feel that you can change it on Auto, Daylight, Shadow. Tungsten. Fluorescent lamps or Post-processing flash, in condition, if you film in the format RAW (another good reason to film in this format).

Maybe you will be chocked by my choice of white balance, but listen. I shoot indoors extremely rarely, even with a sunlight, or with incandescent, fluorescent or luminescent lamps. If I shoot interiors with artificial lighting, only then I would set the white balance on appropriate modes, for example, tungsten (usual home lighting) or fluorescent lamps ( usual office lighting). 

But I work mostly with a natural light, as the majority of you. One exception is when I work in my home mini-studio and shoot objects on the white background or fulfill a commercial order, so I use stroboscopic lamps for lighting of the particular interior. 


In both cases I set the white balance to flash. 

Besides, I take photos at a special time. When it is sunny, I shoot early in the morning or in the afternoon before the twilight. The midday sunlight, between 11:30 and 15:00, I call it the light by the pool, and if there is a pool in the area, you will find me there - in a lawn chair. 


So, with the help of the white balance I seek warmer colors, how it was with my film Kodak E100VS. I rarely change the setting "cloudy" to another one, filming even on sunny, cloudy, rainy, foggy or snowy days. But If you still think that I am a complete fool, don’t forget that in rare cases - I emphasize - exactly rare cases, when I think that it’s better to change the white balance, I can always do it during the post processing, having already downloaded the shots in the format RAW on the computer.


Many people take shots in the middle of the day, but the additional warmth which you will notice on your photographs taken in the morning or in the evening, will certainly attract your attention.

You can tell your friends that you get up early to take shots or you film in the evening, but beware of a trained eye. Morning and evening light leaves long shadows, while the midday light has no shadows. But if count on adding the shadows in the Photoshop, you can bravely go and become a volunteer in the Peace Corps with your patience and dedication.

Rapid start

Create your order in just a couple of clicks

Get Started
RUSH.photo © 2019
Developed by Respect Design