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White Balance & Color Temperature

Lesson 9 from: Photography 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

White Balance & Color Temperature

Lesson 9 from: Photography 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

9. White Balance & Color Temperature


Class Trailer



The Camera is Simply a Tool


How Does a Camera Work?


How to Adjust Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO


Exposure Triangle


What is a Stop of Light


Reading Exposure Via the Histogram


Blown Highlights or Clipped Details


White Balance & Color Temperature


No Such Thing as the Correct Exposure


How To Measure or Meter Light


8 Key Points to Understanding ISO and Image Quality


Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods


How to Get Perfect Exposures in One Shot


Equivalent Exposure but Different Images


Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes


Starting with Automated Modes


Auto Mode and Flash-Off Mode


Portrait Mode on a Fashion Shoot


Landscape Mode on the Beach


Sports or Action Mode


Macro Mode with Food Photography


Creative Effects Mode - Floral Photography


In-Camera Processing


A Glimpse into RAW Processing


15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing


3 Primary Types of Autofocus


Single Shot with Portrait Session


Single Shot with Action Shots


AI Servo with Action Shots


Focus Recomposing vs. AF Point Selection


Shutter Speed and the Reciprocal Rule


How to Hold a Camera and Panning Tutorial


What Makes a Great Photograph?


How to Capture Candid Moments


How to Find the Right Light Direction


5 Basic Compositional Theories


The Power of Cropping


Color Schemes


Diving into the Narrative


If It’s Not Working With, It’s Probably Working Against


More About Your Camera and Lenses


Understanding Megapixels


Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras


Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras Demonstration


Prime vs. Zoom Lens


How the Lens Affects Composition


Dynamic Range and RAW vs. JPEG


5 Tips on Memory Cards


10 Tips on Buying Gear




The Good Karma Jar


Posing and Action Shots with Female Model


Posing and Lighting with Female Model


Posing and Lighting Couples Portraits


Lesson Info

White Balance & Color Temperature

In this video, we're talking about white balance and color temperature, and specifically I have six things let me count this right six things that I want you guys to know when it comes to white balance and color temperature and don't worry this subject, especially your first getting a degree is sounds fusing we talk about things like degrees kelvin and we talk about all these different measurements and numbers and it sounds extremely scientific, but we're going to break down in a very simple way and that's starting from the top with number one color temperature, all this is talking about is simply the color of a light source. Every type of light puts off a different type of color basically in its wavelength. Okay, we don't need to get into the signs of this to be honest, I'm not a scientist I wouldn't build explain it anyway. All you need to know is the photographer that every type of light has its own color. Now I've put together this handy dandy simple look at keller temperatures cha...

rt, which I'm quite proud of, but let's start over here on the indoor side now color temperatures are measured in degrees kelvin, not degrees fahrenheit world uses the metric system, which it should I don't know why here in united states we feel like we need to use whatever we have here it would make no sense if it was degrees fahrenheit okay degrees kelvin that is how is measured and that numbers simply indicates where it falls on this little color spectrum. So over here on the left side we have our red's going to the middle we have oranges, we have yellows we have our neutral whites going in we have a little bit light blues and then going into deeper blues so if it's basically a lower number if it's seventeen hundred state nineteen degrees kelvin it's going to be in that red range when we go up to seventy five hundred ten thousand degrees kelvin it goes in that blue range so talk about indoor light well match matches flames like off of fire not well that's not necessarily indoors don't don't like flames indoors but like let's say you're camping that type of a light or say the candlelight okay so light coming off a can of what you might indeed like indoors also there's a candlelight type elektronik lights electric lights not electron like I guess but those also ari kind of in this range where they put up a very red toe orange life so that's around seventeen hundred and nineteen hundred degrees kelvin moving into household tungsten lights those air base with lights that would screw into ah life picture the typical cheap lights that you buy in a store that you put all over your house those air roughly in the range of twenty, five hundred degrees kelvin now again it ranges okay, so don't be surprised if it's around twenty, seven hundred or three thousand degrees kelvin it is going to vary a bit and oftentimes when you buy life they'll actually tell you the color temperature right there on the box going into say, a halogen light like the lights that are on your car if you don't have seen on and those kind of things halogen lights also a lot of indoor lights are also halogen based lights those air ranging around three thousand degrees kelvin going into the cfl and fluorescent lights that kind of lights that are tubular those air actually particularly nasty these are the the fluorescent lights they basically put up in offices they put off they used basically a type of gas like sodium gas make sure thing inside of them and it puts off a lot of green which we're going to talk about this a second, but the white balance or the color temperature of those lights is around forty two hundred degrees kelvin and then going into other lights that you might use indoor locate these aren't necessarily indoor lights they're just lightly might use indoors because they're fantastic lights well flashes whether using a studio strolled like this one this is an einstein or age pakistan this is the limit pro lp one eighty these flashes are designed to be a neutral white and that is at fifty, five hundred degrees kelvin, which is that same color temperature at basically average noon day, sunny day type lighting. Okay, and that's designed to be that way because from that white balance, you can kind of go anywhere with its neutral and so you can kind of go to the more blue side or you could go to the more yellow side by tinting or our sorry by jelling the light actually, exactly. I mean, this is a nice light. Okay, this is an led light that comes daylight white balanced. So this is balanced five hundred degrees, but you can actually gel it with this little cap and everyone these lights were going to talk more about lighting and yelling and all this kind of stuff when we get a letting one a one to one three one so be sure to check out those workshops because they're going to be fantastic for learning lighting, but this gels it down to around thirty two to thirty, six hundred degrees kelvin. Okay, so now I can balance this. If I'm going indoors, I would use this if I won't going outdoors, I would use the natural daylight balance or I can use it for effect as well, which I want to talk about in just a moment this is a geo one this is another led light but this led light happens to be balanced to tungsten naturally and you can't actually get a daylight filter which will convert it back to daylight so natural like this it's around thirty for thirty six hundred degrees kelvin and if you take it with the daylight filter it puts it back up to fifty five hundred agrees okay, so everyone of these different lights has a different color temperature but that's all indoors that's all artificial basically manmade type lights what about outdoors? What about just natural ambient light sunlight that has its own color temperature too and it actually varies a lot of people think that sunlight just stays at fifty five hundred degrees kelvin which is that noonday color temperature but it doesn't it actually fluctuates as well so if you were to get up for sunrise I know it's really early nobody gets up for sunrise actually fear landscape photographer you do that probably a ton but sunrise or sunset for those that are more of an evening person that color temperature of that light you'll notice is very very orange sometimes it could be borderline read depending where you are in the world and what kind of smog you have here in l a we have lots of beautiful smart which happens toa turn sunlight into all sorts of degrees of orange and slightly red hughes but it looks really cool anyway that varies between two thousand and three thousand degrees kelvin going into early morning and say mid afternoon it could go the thirty five hundred agrees too. Forty five hundred reese kelvin once you hit that afternoon that noon day light on a sunny day that is that standard neutral white light fifty five hundred degrees kelvin which is what clashes are balanced too that is basically almost like a pure white type of light okay and then you go into cloudy and overcast and shade in cloudy weather on overcast days when you go into shade even on a sunny day your white balance has changed or your color temperature will change between around six thousand two seven thousand degrees kelvin and then going into blue skies and twilight and nighttime it can range between seven, five hundred ten thousand degrees kelvin or beyond okay, so the color temperature of sunlight also changes now why do I say keller temperature and not the white balance? Well because color temperature is the measurement of the color of the light white balance refers to the actual camera setting where we're basically telling the camera what we want that neutral point to be but I'm getting ahead of myself that's actually tip number three before I move on a tip number three let's not skip to number two which is to remember that some of these lights they can also put off tinting along with their color for example the most notorious of these is the sodium vapor fluorescent lights, these air, the lights that fall into this forty tony degree, kelvin color temperature range, the lights, long tubular lights that are hung in offices and that kind of stuff. This not a very pleasing light to look at, but they're very efficient and that's why people use them so much that's why companies and everyone put these all over the place, those lights are notorious because they put off a heavy, heavy grain tent basically in the wave links for that light, the green spikes. And so when you put a person underneath that and you take a photograph of them, they're going to look like the incredible hulk. Now, if it's a dude and they're working out a lot, they might want to look like the incredible hulk. But in general, most people do not want to look like the incredible hulk. So what we have to do with those is we actually have tto change not only the white balance, but we also have to change the tent if you're shooting raw, you can do this in post production could just ten from or green two more magenta, and we basically counteracted it's green, you'd adjust to be more magenta if it's magenta would've just to be more green. But just remember that each one these lights can also have a tinting color effect as well so don't be surprised if you set your white balance and things still look green or they still look pink or whatever it is in your image okay, now let's move on to tip number three and this is to set your camera's white balance and every camera is goingto have basically different options available to you so for example this is an advanced dslr this is the cannon five mark three and I use this camera just to show you that this camera has every one of these functions available to you. Okay, so something like a nikon d a hundred five the mark three a sony a seven those are all gonna have every color temperature option or white balance option available to you which means that not on ly can I go ahead and I can hit this white balance button and I'm gonna just between the different presets so it has pre sets for sunlight it has pre sets for shade it has for overcast it hasn't for tungsten lighting fluorescent lighting, flash lighting it has a custom white balance that we can use force a great cards which is again not one on one type topic but we'll get into that when we talk about studio lighting and it also has a way that we can dial in just the specific kelvin setting this has all those functions available in addition to the automatic white balance a w b now one quick note if you're using auto white balance it's okay to use it in daylight it generally does a pretty good job when you're outdoors it's still gonna be a little bit off especially if you go in the shade but around that fifty five hundred degree kelvin range it doesn't decent job once you bring it indoors auto white balance generally doesn't get you quite where you want to be I'd recommend really just learning to set your white balance regardless of a senior and even if you're outdoors say, white balls if you're indoors set your wipeouts but this camera has all those functions available a more simple camera let's a rebel or a basic entry level camera I might only have white balance presets meaning that there's no way to dial in a specific kelvin number on this one I can actually go like this watch this I'll do it actually we'll go into the menu for this because I want to demonstrate one of think so if I go to the menu and I goto white balance I can actually flip right over here to kelvin and I can dial this up and down that may or may not be available to you depending on the camera making model okay, so some of these more advanced features like that might not be available all right, so that is how we set our white balls. No, my recommendation to you is to set your white balance to essentially the appropriate light in the scene. What you're telling your camera is what is the neutral light you're telling your camera? I'm in a scene that's all tungsten lighting. I want you to treat tungsten as if it were neutral as if it were white light. Okay, so it balances everything to that and your images come out without a super yellow or orange hue, which we're going to show you in just a moment before I get in to show you guys some images, I want to show you one other thing and this is tipping before this is my favorite way to adjust white balance. And again, this depends on your camera because I know some nikon cameras don't allow this or they don't have this function basically, but try this out. Switch into your cameras live you now from live you you can actually see your scene just by looking and actually have a nice little this is my managing over here. I'm gonna dress him up in a pirate costume soon, okay? Because he's going to be my studio pirate so I can talk about him actually gonna dress him up as a troll so I can refer to him as the studio troll so from here, if we hit white balance, if we hit that button, you can see that the white balance will actually pop up, and if we put this onto kelvin, I can actually change my white balance right here. And basically, what this allows me to do is I can dial in the white balance visually with every single scene that I go into it very simple, I don't need to take any test shots and then adjust and so forth I can adjust it visually once and just leave it there I was going to enter basically, and then it's set, okay, so that's, my preferred way of adjusting light bounce tip number five is that if you are shooting in wrong, you can always adjust white balance and tent completely. You have complete control over it in postproduction now that doesn't mean don't set it in your camera, sometimes I get lazy, I think we all get lazy at times and we just go put on auto, I balance it, we'll fix it later, but really, it is best to do it in camera, especially if you have the time. Let me go ahead and we're gonna work through a couple images I'm just going to show you human doesn't show you the differences between them, okay, so let's, go ahead and start with let's do this image for example this image was shot inside at a wedding on it was very much an orange type of lighting more matching like ken light and you can see that basically the types of lights they're using are like these they're basically lights that mimic candlelight so we're talking about that two thousand degree kelvin range also the life they're using like these big floodlights have been jelled multiple times to match that same color temperature so when we don't adjust white balance this is what the shot looks like okay so it's very very sorry very very orange almost said green and he's going to like pyre your color planed and look we're already at three thousand degrees kelvin and it's still extremely oranges to yellow so what we have to do we have to dial the temperature down okay so this is an illustration if you're shooting and raw you have complete control this later on now if you set the camera to its neutral point which is like saying a scene like this to get our colors to go completely white that's a two thousand degrees kelvin but generally I like to go a little bit warmer than that and we're going to talk about that in just a moment that white balance is kind of a creative decision to but what we do just fix the white balance so we get somewhere maybe like around here we have this nice kind of warms to it, but it's much more neutral than it was way up here in that three thousand range where everything is just pure orange. Now, if you're shooting jpeg, you need to make sure that you dialing your kelvin in camera because when you're working on a jpeg image, you don't have those same controls and to illustrate that I have this little psd file, so psd files in the same way they're not rather treated like a jpeg image where basically we have this temperature and ten adjustment over here, but we're not. We're not basically dialing a specific kelvin intent. What we're doing is making compensation for it. So yes, it looks like we have control of rip, but in reality, it's not giving us full control, we're just adjusting over the existing image. We're not changing the white balance of the image, okay? So just remember that if you're in jpeg or in editing any other type of file in post production, you can adjust temperature intent and it'll layer it over what's already there. But you better have shot it correctly in camera because you can't have specific control like you would a raw file let's, go ahead and move on to another image again, this image right here, this was shot. With a this was shot with actually jail one lighting them up because we're outdoors there's no light we have another like up on a stick that kind of creates a little backlight just to add a little extra light to the scene we're balancing this around thirty four hundred degrees kelvin if it were say around daylight okay if we left it on daylight it would be really really orange and look kind of nasty all these colors get blown out and this is what happens if you don't adjust those colors if you're shooting video by the way you better be adjusting in camera because video is just like a j pack you don't have that control later on if we end up adjusting it to be too cool like around twenty five hundred then all those colors they go blue okay let's take a look at another one so right around where I like it was around that thirty four hundred range or thirty six and it's fine to again there's kind of ah variants where you can choose based on your style this was an overcast day so take a look at this so overcast we're at fifty six hundred degrees kelvin here again rumor how these air all variations depending on where you are depending on the time of day depending on the type of overcast all the weather and all the well all the settings of your atmosphere are going to affect the color temperature so this didn't fall into six thousand, so six thousand was where we said it normally would be. But for my preference, I'd prefer to run for the six hundred degrees again. This is where the live you comes in really handy, because you can dial it in based on that live you. Now, this is a perfect illustration right here of basically mixture in lighting. We talked about how daylight is basically more blue and inside light is more orange, right? We showed you that little chart right here. Take a look at this. It's daylight. We have mohr, bluish side and indoor light. We have it more orange. So going back to this image, we have this mixture here and we're actually using it in the photo to the right side. I have a geo one, which is this light right here. That's balanced tungsten on the left side. I have this nice a lamp, and I have a kind of looking towards the lamps on the left on the right. We're basically shaping her with this tungsten light, and we're using the background and setting the white balance to basically allow the background this daylight coming through the back to go very blue, so what ends up happening to that is watch this when we had just to basically make that indoor light more neutral so if I were to make it more neutral by cooling it down the background light which is already blue becomes more blue okay, so this is where we can use white balance for creative effect again, this is getting into more lighting one of one leading to online in three one stuff that we're going to talk about in those workshops but I want to give you a little taste of it because it's absolutely amazing what you can do with lighting in this situation right here we're using actually two flashes were using to pocket strobes and we're shooting it and balancing daylight because this is a daylight scene so we're bouncing to the light in the scene just a light at the couple little bits so we have this nice beautiful light and if we look at the color temperature were right around fifty eight hundred degrees remember they liked him very too this is the sun's out it's a blue sky but for this image I prefer fifteen hundred degrees rather than fifty five hundred at fifty five hundred this looks a little bit on the cold side if you could see that's fifty four fifty five okay so again remember that there's a lot of stylistic preference here let's go back to see let's check out this image this image was shot indoors this is actually from lighting one of one which is dvd that we're filming right now be sure to check it out and in this video and lighting one one we're showing you essentially how to create amazing images with a single on camera flash that means we never take the camera we never take the flash off the camera. This whole workshop is designed to help you to master on camera flash to show you just how much you can do with that. So this is all done with one single on camera flash, but with this we're leaving it daylight white balance because we have a little bit of daylight poke in through underneath this garage. Okay, so again, if we look at the white balance over here it's right around daylight, even though we're indoors, all the light that we're using is daylight, so we're balancing two that light, okay, let's, go back here and I want to show you one other image I think I've shown you everything this one is this was actually one of the photo one one one one things that we did, I wanted to show this one, particularly because the temperature even though she's standing in shade, we have a reflector on her and the correct white balance really for me is around fifty toner degrees kelvin it can again change based on the type of lighting, modifiers and everything using, so don't treat all the numbers that we gave you as kind of guides as rules of thumb don't treat them is concrete okay now looking at this one this is one that we're going to get into when we get in the lighting to when we start taking the camera or the flash off the cameras start jelling atmore this is what we're going for so in this shot what we're doing is we're actually using a geo one okay it's pin lighted right on the subject and what we've done here is we've white balance the scene to the couple so the couple is nice and they're a little bit warm but it has a great look over their skin tones and what happens is again rumor daylight is more blue tungsten is more yellow so if I pull everything down if I pull the camera down to balance to that yellow light then what's already blue becomes even more blue so if I bring this in and I kind of tweak the temperature a little bit you'll see that as we go down in temperature that background his shifts to b'more and more blue when we balance for the background we balanced for ah the daylight which is going to be around like, say, fifty five hundred this is actually more around dusk so it'll probably even hired will probably like six thousand seven thousand you can see how orange the couple gets so what we're doing here is we're mixing light for creative effect, so this is one of those instances where we're using how the camera views and sees the scene tow our advantage to create an image that looks pretty much unreal, but it was done all in camera, you can actually see that this is the raw file were working on the raw file right now, so this was all done in camera, and once I set my white balance to the couple, like, right around four thousand degrees kelvin, our background and gets sent in this deep blue again, be sure to check out those other workshop, because we're going to dive into this a lot more in those it's kind of beyond the scope of what we're covering here, but I wanted to give you a little taste, a little taste test. Okay, so let's, go on to my last and final tip, which is to remember that white balance, like everything in photography, is a creative decision. Yes, there is a white balance, that's going to look not good. Okay, there's, a white bounce there's going to be, in its essence kind of wrong, but there's also a lot of correct white balances, for example, for this image right here, I could pull this down, let me hit jason that clipping alert turns off. I could pull the tempter down a little more if I want to go for a more neutral tone and it gets more blue, I can pull it up a little more if I want to go with more warmth over the couple and their skin tones. There's a thousand to fifteen hundred really way, just depending on if I like it more cool, if I like him or warm any one of these is kind of my artistic discretion. Same thing with these other images, like, for example, if we pull this down to be pure neutral. Ok, so if I bring this down to, say, two thousand degrees kelvin that's where it's essentially neutral that's where that yellow light becomes white, but it doesn't look very interesting to me at this point. I want to warm it up a little bit. I want to keep some of that natural warm ambience that it had when you look at this scene with just your eyes. And so I would have just creatively to be a little warmer, like, say, around twenty, four hundred degrees kelvin. Same thing. If I go to say another image let's, take this image of our guy working out right here now, if I want, I can adjust is to be really on the cool side where we kind of go this cooler light we get more blues and more grazing the skin tone and it kind of looks cool it looks kind of editorial has this nice unique feel to it likewise I can adjust it up to fifty, six hundred fifty seven degrees calamari has more warmth and it has a much more warm scene this is exactly what I mean by white balance this choice is as much of a creative choice as choosing the appropriate shutter speed choose for your motion and so forth choosing the appropriate aperture for your death the field and desire in effect it's just as big of a choice creatively there is white bounces they're goingto look wrong so if I take this up to say sixteen thousand yes this does not look good but there's a great leeway and what is going to look right and that is where it is going to fall based on your plate to decide for your personal style and preferences. Lastly, before I conclude to minor quick tips well if you're trying to get your temperature and post produce and trying to always think from computer, make sure that you first calibrate your display otherwise the colors that you're seeing are not going to be the correct colors you can use like an eye one device or a spider league pro we use both those air fantastic devices number two. Two terms going to hear a lot when it comes to white balance is to cool it off or to warm it up. Cooled off simply means to dial down the temperature, so that's going to be a cooler or more blue image, warming up means to dial it up, so becomes more yellow or more orange. Okay, so that's it for color, temperature and white balance. Hope you all enjoy this video, and I'll see you in the next one.

Ratings and Reviews


I watched this class "live" and was simply amazed at the amount of information Pye covered. Yes, he talks a little fast, and since I was streaming the class I couldn't stop it to review anything, but this guy really knows his stuff and explains it very well so I absorbed quite a bit. Bye is enthusiastic, clearly enjoys his craft, and delivers excellent information to students in a light heartedI and fun way. I think some reviewers are a bit harsh about his humor. Lighten up, people! His examples and the additional information his co-host provides are very worthwhile and you can tell the course was well thought out. I plan to buy the class to help me get back into DSLR photography.


I really enjoyed this class. I am not a beginner, but there were still things I learned here that I found helpful. I really enjoy learning from Pye. He is quick, gets to the point and doesn't spend a lot of time going over and over the same point. There is a wide variety of things that he covers, so really something for everyone. I would recommend purchasing this class if you want to understand your camera better, improve your technique and start taking better photos.

Joy Bobrink

I have tried to learn photography myself via the internet / YouTube but always felt like I was missing something in my foundation. Sure I can zero out my meter...but why? How do I know the settings I've selected are the correct ones? I've been circling this drain for a year until this course. WOW! Pye has SO MUCH information in every video. He doesn't just stand in a classroom and talk, he's out in the field actually putting his settings into his camera, talking about why and why not and then shooting. He's hands on the entire course. You don't just hear him, you see exactly what he's doing! I'm a visual / listening learner and this is my eureka moment! Thank you Pye! Watching the Exposure video and how you changed the settings yet maintained the exact same exposure was mind blowing. Awesome course! I would recommend this to anyone new to photography or anyone that feels like they don't have all the info.

Student Work