White Balance: Auto vs. Kelvin
Over the years, we’ve taught numerous beginners and one question that always pops is, “How can I shoot proper, white-balanced photography with Kelvin temperatures?”
If you’re new, it can be overwhelming, but it’s guaranteed that once you learn the tricks of the trade, it becomes easier. In fact, it’s one of the most appreciated techniques of the photography world!
If you’re tired of inconsistent colors and the weird blue-grey skin tone you get when shooting in the shade, Kelvin temperatures can help. But in order to work with these temps, it’s important to understand how they work.
What is Kelvin?
What exactly is ‘Kelvin’ and how is it useful, you ask? It’s a unit of measurement for temperature but in photography, we use it to measure the color temperature of different light sources.
The temperature ranges from 2000K to 9000K but when we’re editing pictures in Lightroom, we shift it to around 50,000K. However, it’s rarely used in such high numbers. And most photographers shoot between 5000K and 7500K.
Take a look at the table below to get an idea of the temperature of white balance for different sources of light:
|Type of Light Source||Kelvin Temperature|
|House Light Bulbs||3500K|
Of course, these are rough estimates, and depending on different factors, these temps can always be adjusted. Most photographers who shoot outdoors and in the shade will be using temps between 6500K and 8000K. This, of course, depends on how deeply you are positioned and the source of natural light.
If you take a look at the table, you’ll see that candlelight has the lowest Kelvin temperature at 2000K. So if you walk into a room full of candles, you’ll have to set the temperature very low. The same is applied with light bulbs. You will need to set the temperature to 3500K to match the lighting.
Since white balance plays an important role in the way your photographs turn out, you’ll find a white balance button on either the top or back of the camera. It’ll give you options like, clouds, flash, light bulbs, house etc.
And while these come with their own settings, we recommend that you keep scrolling until you reach the options ‘K (Kelvin)’. This will allow you insert the number you want to use. Remember that each camera is different and therefore, your camera’s settings will vary from model to model. In this case, make sure to read the manual, or do a quick Google search.
In a nutshell, light bulbs are 3200K, fluorescent (white) is 4200K, the sun is 5200K, clouds are 6000K, and a house with shade is 7000K.
Once you learn the tricks of the trade, and get comfortable with your camera, shooting imagery using Kelvin temps becomes easy. Remember that practice makes perfect and in order to achieve your goal, you need to experiment.
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