How many times do you look through your lens, see something beautiful, press your shutter, and then pull the camera away from your face, and see something completely different? This has happened to me far more times then I can count. When I look through the view finder of my camera I want to capture what I see and it's up to me to make the camera see what I see.
I've spent a lot of years shooting at sunset where the light is warm and lovely. I became accustomed to this warm light, so much so that a lot of my photos were coming out warmer then I wanted them to be and this was all do to my white balance. I've always been one to set my white balance. I want to do everything I can to create the best picture I can in camera. I've recently been experimenting with different white balance settings, working towards a greater understanding of which white balance settings will bring me closest to my desired look.
CHOOSING A CUSTOM WHITE BALANCE
I'm used to flipping through the custom white balance settings; auto, incandescent, fluorescent, direct sun, flash, cloudy, and shade. But over time I learned that even though I was choosing a setting for the circumstantial light I was shooting in, I still came away occasionally unhappy with the balance in my photos. The custom settings are pretty self explanatory. If you don't want to have to think about setting your white balance, set it on auto and your camera will decide for you. If you're shooting inside with incandescent or fluorescent lighting, choose either of those settings. If your shooting outside choose direct sun, cloudy, or shading. And last, if your shooting with a flash choose the flash setting.
EXAMPLES : D300S + 35L
Each of these images are sooc (straight out of camera). I wanted you to be able to view each straight from the camera without any editing. I also shot JPEG since I didn't plan on doing any editing. Each image was shot with an ISO of 400, F-stop 2.5, and shutter speed 1/20. A tripod was used to ensure the best lighting.
You can see from the examples above the difference in each custom settings. The auto setting starts out somewhere in the middle, but then things move from cool to warm. Your camera manual will actually break down each of these settings. Often times shooting with the auto white balance is a pretty safe bet. For the most part you'll come out with a pretty even temperature and you can always adjust in post.
SHOOTING IN KELVIN, CHOOSING YOUR OWN TEMPERATURE
But what happens if you want even greater control over you white balance? That is where the Kelvin setting comes in. The Kelvin setting actually lets you choose the exact "temperature" at which you would like to shoot at. Shooting in Kelvin can actually be a little overwhelming at first, because all you have to scroll through is a bunch of numbers. Unless you know the range of numbers and at which temperature they fall you may seem like you are stumbling around in the dark.
But that's why we are here today so we can chat about those Kelvin settings and you can give them ago with a little more confidence. Your Kelvin settings are going to range between 2,500 and 10,000. With 2,500 being very cool and 10,000 being very warm. Often times when I get started I set my white balance at 5,000. That gives me a jumping off point since 5,000 usually falls close to the middle. If I feel like my photo is too warm or too cool, I'll decrease or increase my number ever so slightly.
You can see the photos above are relativity cool and the photos below are relativity warm. Based on the temperature of the photos and the coordinating number we can adjust to our preference.
The more you shoot in Kelvin the more comfortable you will become and the better you will become at reading the light that you are shooting in. If you want to give shooting in Kelvin a go, try shooting the same object at different Kelvin settings like the examples above. This will give you really clear examples of the differences and hopefully give you confidence moving forward.
Let me know if you give Kelvin a try and hashtag (#ElahTreePhotoTips) your workso I can check it out!