Tuesday, May 16, 2006

05/16/06: A few tips about color temperature

A few basic tips about color temperature...

Color temperature, as measured in Kelvin degrees (K), is important for digital photographers to understand how light changes and digital cameras record it. In the film days, photographers adjusted for color temperature using different types of "biased" film (daylight film, etc.) and / or filters. In digital photography, adjustments can be made both on the camera (with auto white balance, custom white balance, or white balance pre-sets) and with software. Average daylight color temperature is about 5500K. A typical tungsten light bulb (that which you would find in most household lamps) has a temperature of 2800K. Open shade -- where the blue sky provides most of the light and makes your subject look bluish -- has a color temperature of about 7500K.

Tungsten lighting and sunrise / sunset lighting has an orange bias while open shade has a blue bias. Knowing these tendencies can help you select a white balance preset (or a custom white balance setting) on your camera or in your image editing software to compensate for the bias. If a scene looks predominantly blue, use an open shade white balance setting. For orange, use a tungsten white balance setting. Don't be afraid to experiment with your white balance settings on your camera...but when you are done shooting (if you tend to forget to check settings as I often do!), be sure to put your settings back to either auto or your typical setting for the type of photography that you do most.

Questions or comments? dan@dailyphototips.com

Keep shooting!


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