Colour cast and white balance

10 Oct

The objective with this exercise is to see the influence of different white balance adjustments to different light situations.

The eyes have white light as on a sunny day at noon as a reference and adepts fast to different colour temperatures. The camera on the other hand just records the actual light and temperature which can give some heavy colour casts towards yellow or blue.

We were asked to take pictures of three different situations with natural light.

  • Sunlight
  • Cloudy
  • Open shade on a sunny day

Those situation were to be photographed with four different white balance settings in the camera or in the RAW-converter when shooting RAW which I did.

Down here you can see the results.

The colour temperature goes more towards blue when going from sunny to cloudy and then to shade. Auto is often a good choice but tends to give more bluish cast than it is in reality. Some pictures look better when having a warmer touch instead of the bluish cast. Even if the white balance is not totally correct. When looking at the pictures you see that the setting of white balance compensates for the natural cast in the light.

The first is the sunny situation where the auto settings gives a slightly cold touch over the picture while the daylight settings gives pleasant colours and the other two settings too yellowish.

In the shady situation you get again a colder image with the auto setting and as expected with the daylight setting. The cloudy setting works perfectly fine while the shade setting is too warm. I thereafter took the dropper-tool from the RAW-converter to get a more precise reading of the white balance. The white from the window frame was picked but the white balance was a little to cold to my taste.

The cloudy pictures shows the compensation of colour cast towards yellow in the shade setting and towards blue in the daylight setting. In this series I prefer the auto setting due to the warmer touch.

The last situation were asked to photograph was a situation with different light sources, both natural and artificial.

I chose a view of our house and kitchen at dusk.

The difficulties were that there the artificial light and the natural light had absolutely different colours.

The choice had to be to either go for the correct white balance for the interior or exterior getting a yellow or blue cast in the opposite light or to try and make a compromise between them.

I asked several of my friends which version was their favourite and I got almost as many different answers as there were versions. I tried daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, auto and a picker.

To my taste was the fluorescent or auto version best because it kept the warm touch of the interior while not having a too bad colourcast on the outside.

My wife on the other hand thought that the daylight was best, stressing the warm character of the picture and ignoring the cast on the outside.


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