Colour Cast and White Balance

Find the following outdoor lighting situations, each of which has a different colour temperature.

  • Sunlight
  • Cloudy
  • Open shade on a sunny day

For each, choose a scene or object or person to photograph, and shoot four versions, using each one of these white balance options and your camera’s Auto setting. In your browser compare the results for each scene. Note that the Auto will have attempted to make the best result under the circumstances, but may still be slightly different from the best of the three others.

SUNLIGHT

WB Auto. I set the white balance to auto, daylight, cloudy and shade and captured four varying versions of these lovely snow drops. Auto appears very neutral and cold. Whereas Shade and Cloudy WB settings both have an orange and warm glow which doesn’t reflect the accuracy of the scene in this particular photo. The best and most accurate White Balance setting is Daylight which seems to have given the green a very vibrant tone, and yet still preserves the crisp white colour of the snowdrops.

IMG_4567 auto

WB Daylight

IMG_4561 (2) daylight

WB Cloudy

IMG_4563 (2) cloudy

WB Shade

IMG_4565 (2) shade

CLOUDY

WB Auto. I captured the following four images on a cloudy, overcast day. We see that WB Auto has done the best job it can under the circumstances, but has fallen slightly flat with colour- with a blueish colour cast falling on the scene making it dull and cold. WB daylight is still slightly colder than how I perceived the scene. WB cloudy and shade are much warmer- however WB shade is a little more orange than how I remembered it. Therefore WB cloudy is the most accurate White balance setting here.

IMG_4375 auto

WB Daylight

IMG_4374 sunny

WB Cloudy

IMG_4373 cloudy

WB Shade

IMG_4371 shade

OPEN SHADE ON A SUNNY DAY

WB Auto. I purposely overexposed the background in this image in order to expose correctly for the dog. The shade of the grass in each shot shows amazingly well the stark difference that White Balance makes to an image. We see that the dullest and weakest colour of grass is in WB Auto which provides very neutral tones throughout the image. WB cloudy and shade give the grass in the sun an extremely yellow tone which is highly unrealistic and inaccurate to the scene as I perceived it. However, the colour of the shaded areas are relatively accurate. WB Daylight is probably the best setting here, as it provides the most accurate colouring throughout. The best image would be produced through mixing the accuracy of WB daylight in the sunny areas, and WB shade in the shaded areas!

IMG_4550 (2) auto

WB Daylight

IMG_4549 (2) daylight

WB Cloudy

IMG_4552 (2) cloudy

WB Shade

IMG_4551 (2) shade

For the second part of the exercise, find and shoot a mixed-lighting source scene.

One of the most predictably mixed is an indoor/outdoor scene at dusk (in which the indoor is lit by orangeish light while the exterior, is bluish. Shoot three versions at the following white balance settings.

  • Sunlight
  • Tungsten
  • Auto

Compare the results. Choose one version and explain why you chose it.

Image 1- WB Daylight. I captured this indoor scene at dusk- showing how my camera’s white balance settings would cope with capturing the inside of my living room against the outside dusk skies. I personally think that the best White Balance setting here is WB daylight. It is by far the most accurate; capturing the slight blue cast of the outside skies, against the slight orange glow of the inside of my living room. Compared with the other versions which either undersaturate the outside colour, or oversaturate the inside- producing an extremely orange colour cast.

IMG_4672

Image 2- WB Auto

IMG_4673

Image 3- WB Shade

IMG_4674

WB Cloudy

IMG_4675

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