Colour Balance In The Landscape

Here are some quick tips on using white balance settings in the landscape.

13/09/2013 - 00:00

Jokulsarlon, Iceland
Photo by David Clapp

If you're heading out for a full day of shooting landscapes, you'll soon notice that the temperature of the light alters throughout the day. This change in colour temperature, which can also be effected by the weather, can create different colour casts, depending on the time of day, in your shots.

Cameras are smart and adjust the white balance (the colour temperature of the light) for each exposure and often, auto white balance will do a perfectly good job of fine-tuning the shot. However, there are times when you will need to take more control over this particular setting. This is something we'll look at in more detail shortly but first, we'll talk about RAW and JPEG files.

Most Pentax cameras now allow you to shoot in RAW, JPEG or both file types together. Why this is important when considering colour temperature is because JPEG file types give you limited control over colour temperature as the file is processed in-camera with what ever white balance setting was chosen. Shoot in RAW and you'll be able to adjust the colour temperature of the file in your RAW conversion software once home. 

As mentioned, auto white balance does a good job at removing colour shifts most of the time but there are occasions where you'll want to boost certain tones or create a particular mood you can't achieve with the auto setting. It's also worth playing around with the variety of white balance settings on offer so you can better understand how each changes the temperature of the light recorded in your image. That way, when you come to actually photographing a scene and the result isn't quite what you expected, you'll have a better understanding of what setting will work better. Of course, there are times when cloudy or a tungsten setting won't work but you don't know unless you try!

Most cameras have the following white balance settings: auto, cloudy, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent and flash.

If you use a Tungsten setting in natural daylight at around midday, your shot will appear to have a blue cast to it. This isn't great if you're trying to convey the message of a warm summer's day but it will work great to emphasis the feeling of cold in a shot with ice or even snow in it. Switch to shade or cloudy when photographing a sunset and the tones associated with sunsets will be given a boost. If you leave your camera on auto white balance when photographing this type of scene the camera could decide the scene needs toning down which can result in a blue-ish shot that doesn't have any punch.

Have a go at playing with white balance settings and post your results in the Pentax User Gallery

Related Photos


Link Posted 20/09/2013 - 00:09
Good, succinct article... thank you...

Quick observation re the photograph that illustrates it... it's brilliant, but doesn't David Clapp (the photographer) shoot Canon (1Ds3), not Pentax?



Link Posted 01/10/2013 - 15:51
Not sure what camera he used to take said photograph, but surely that makes no difference to the advice given re white light balance, does it?
thingsthatihaveseen wrote:
Good, succinct article... thank you...

Quick observation re the photograph that illustrates it... it's brilliant, but doesn't David Clapp (the photographer) shoot Canon (1Ds3), not Pentax?

Last Edited by Glowingblue on 01/10/2013 - 15:56


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