The Digital Photo Guy

White Balance Trick

by on Mar.12, 2009, under Photo Editing

I’ve seen lots of articles, columns, books, brochures, etc titled XYZ Tips & Tricks but never took the time to figure out what constitutes a tip and what is a trick. When I started to write this post, I nearly titled it White Balance Tip but quickly realized it was really a trick. How did I differentiate between a tip and a trick? I decided that tips are better, faster, easier ways to accomplish a task. So, Photoshop keyboard shortcuts are tips and setting white balance to AWB in RAW is a tip. Tricks, on the other hand, are ways to accomplish a task using some non-standard method or tool. I learned this trick last month at Bosque del Apache, NM in Artie Morris’ workshop.

Not every morning or evening results in spectacular light or soft warm glow. Many days are just plain while other days are just plain ugly. The photo below (left) is of a plain daybreak at Bosque. The middle photo is the same photo with white balance set to 7200 Kelvin in Adobe Camera RAW. The last photo shows a similar scene 5 minutes later with white balance set to 7200 Kelvin.

3210_awb   3210_acr   3218_7200k

I realize they’re two different scenes but the shot on the right has a richer color than the photo in the middle even though both were adjusted for 7200 Kelvin white balance. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because the camera is working in 14 bit mode while the PS version is 8 bit.

The point is, it’s easy to dial in a higher or lower white balance to get the image you want. Even if you decide you don’t like it, if you shoot in RAW, you can dial it back in ACR and you won’t have lost anything except a moment of your time to readjust it.

To get a warmer (redder) image, dial in a higher Kelvin temperature (7000K or more) and to get a cooler (bluer) image dial it back to under 3000K. This is my favorite from that series. One bald eagle was calling the other and eventually both were sitting on this snag in the main impoundment as the sun rose to the east.



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