Why You Should Use the “Wrong” White Balance

Think white balance is just for getting the right color to your images? Think again.
By Digital Admin, Last updated on: 6/11/2014

Photography comes from Greek words that mean writing with light—but exactly what type of light you are writing with will change the color of the image. That's where white balance comes in.

At the most basic level, white balance is used to make sure the objects that are white in real life are still white in the image. But what if you don't use white balance this way? What if, instead, you use white balance to change the color of light you are writing with?

Using the “wrong” white balance can do just that. Watch what happens when the same RAW image is adjusted to the different white balance options.

Auto White Balance
Cloudy White Balance Daylight White Balance
Flash White Balance
Florescent White Balance Shade White Balance
Tungsten White Balance


Sunsets are a prime example of when not to use the correct white balance. Using the accurate white balance will remove the golden glow of a setting sun or that cool blue just after the sun sets. Changing up the white balance can simulate different effects--dusk taken in tungsten, for example, looks like it was shot much later into the day. Some of the images are subtle at first, but adjusting the contrast and saturation in post processing enhances the differences even more.

What is your favorite image out of the ones above? Don't forget to use the "wrong" white balance next time you shoot a sunset.


Hillary Grigonis is the Managing Editor at DCHQ. Follow her on Facebook or Google+.


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