How to evoke mood in your photos using white balance

What are “colour temperature” and “white balance” and how to evoke mood in your photos using white balance?

Colour temperature is a term used to describe the relative “warm” vs “cool” tone of a light source. This warmth or coolness of a light source is measured in Kelvins, with lower readings (for example 2600°K) being “warm” and higher readings (for example 7500°K) being “cool.” Depending on what mood / feeling you want to achieve with the photo you are taking, you will have to know how to control and use the camera’s white balance settings.

White balance refers to the way your camera can be adjusted to “correct” the colour temperatures of the light it receives, to produce a balanced “true white” for the particular photo and lightning. For example, if an image is “warmer,” or has a more orange or red tones, the white balance of the camera itself can be adjusted to accommodate that lower colour temperature. 

Take a look at the following example:

In the first image, the colour temperature is “warmer,” and there is a slight yellow / orange tone to the image. In the second image the white balance has been adjusted to represent better the lightning at that moment. The skin tones in the second image are also more natural looking.

Take a look at another example:

Due to the overall warmness of the first image you get the feeling that the photo is taken later in the day, probably closer to sunset. The photo looks more welcoming, calmer, comforting, intimate and even “friendlier”. The second photo is more blue-ish and thus “colder” and may evoke a feeling of loneliness, sadness etc…

Notice how the mood/tone of an image changes with a slight adjustment in its colour temperature. It is important to understand that most of the time there is no “correct white balance” for every photo. White balance can be adjusted to taste in camera or during the post processing of your photos or left completely on AUTO in the settings of your camera.

Do you want to know more? Please check “The Importance of Colour in Photography” by clicking here.

Do you want to become a better photographer? Please consider attending one of my photography workshops in Brussels. More info and schedule you can find by clicking here.