Monday, May 11, 2009

White-Balance Mood Lighting

A digital camera's white balance feature is a valuable tool that allows you to capture the quality of light in a given moment as accurately as possible. Most SLRs come with a variety of different settings which you can choose from including: automatic, cloudy, sunny and even the option to create your own custom white balance. Another setting that is commonly included is Tungsten. This filter is intended to be used indoors when the main light source is light from tungsten bulbs. To counteract (or balance) the very warm light from these bulbs, the tungsten setting pumps a high amount of blue into the image to give the impression of a neutral cast. However, if you use this setting outdoors, the world suddenly takes on a cool, icy tone that can really add to certain compositions.

I recently made this photo (above) of a damselfly that had just emerged from a pond. I liked the stark contrast and simplicity of the photo but wanted to create an image with more of a primordial feel.
By slightly underexposing the scene and setting my white balance to tungsten I was able to easily change the mood in mere seconds. I now have two very different images of the same moment that both stand on their own.


Les said...

That's really useful tip. Thanks, I'm going to try it.

Clay Bolt said...


Glad that you found the post useful. Let me know how it works out.


Heather said...

Good advice. I found that using the tungsten setting is very helpful when taking night time photos of the sky/stars... otherwise the night sky looks too warm.