Posts Tagged ‘White’

Cooling Cities: L.A. is Painting Streets White to Combat Heat Island Effects

15 Sep

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Thanks in part to heat-absorbing materials and colors, cities tend to be warmer than their natural surroundings, and in hot places with lots of dark roads like Los Angeles that can prove a serious public health hazard.The mayor has pledged to reduce temperatures in the city by 3 degrees over the next 20 years, in part by dealing with urban heat island effects in new and different ways.

As part of this promise to help make bring down temperatures for its millions of residents, LA is trying something that could dramatically change its urban landscape: repainting roads in white. The aim is to reflect rather than absorb heat and so far the results are extremely promising.

“We found that on average the area covered in CoolSeal is 10 degrees cooler than black asphalt on the same parking lot,” said Greg Spotts, the assistant director of the Bureau of Street Services for San Fernando Valley, an area with particularly severe heat problems.

It’s not just about open public spaces either: reducing exterior temperatures has impacts on adjacent interiors. Heat reductions outside and mean cooler spaces inside area homes and businesses. In turn, this can help residents and owners save on cooling costs. It also isn’t just a daytime problem: heat captured during the day is released into the night air, keeping things hotter around the clock.

The process doesn’t come cheap, however: each coat lasts for around seven years but prices out around $ 40,000 per linear mile. If it works, though, the cost could be offset in part by savings on other fronts, in addition to making for a more healthy metropolis all around. Meanwhile, other strategies are also in play — the city is looking to make roofs brighter, for instance, and bring more green into the mix. (via Inhabitat and L.A. Times, images by Greg Spotts and Giuseppe Milo).

Share on Facebook

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

[ WebUrbanist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]


Comments Off on Cooling Cities: L.A. is Painting Streets White to Combat Heat Island Effects

Posted in Creativity


Sony a9 underwater review: Shooting great white sharks

22 Aug

Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo is the largest underwater imaging equipment supplier in the world. They love the water, and they personally dive and shoot with the gear they sell. This article originally appeared on their website, and is reproduced here with permission.

With the high speed shooting of the Sony a9 mirrorless camera and just released Nauticam NA-A9 underwater housing, we decided the best underwater photography test was to take it to the island of Guadalupe off the Baja California coast to shoot great white sharks.

The white sharks are a perfect subject to test with this camera due to their speed, relative unpredictability, stealthiness, and camouflage. All of these factors require a camera to have fast and accurate autofocus, fast continuous shooting mode, and a really deep image buffer to capture as many pictures as possible to nail that one special shot.

Sony designed the Sony a9 to do just that and aimed this camera to directly compete with the Nikon D5 and Canon 1DX II, both of which are the top cameras from Nikon and Canon for high-speed shooting.

Sony a9 Camera, Nauticam NA-A9 Housing, Sony 16-35mm Lens. Shot at 1/250 F8 ISO 320

Blazing Fast Autofocus Performance

The Sony a9 has a crazy amount of AF points at 693 when set in wide mode that covers 93% of the frame and updates focus at a stunning rate of 60 times per second. I used the Sony 16-35mm f/4 lens exclusively for this trip and let the camera pick from the 693 autofocus points on its own.

With this camera and lens combination, I did not have any problems with the camera and lens not tracking the subject, even during high speed “attacks” of the sharks going after the bait, when letting the camera choose on its own among the 693 AF points. Only when a shark was at the limit of visibility did the AF system lose the subject and started to track the water surface instead. When a shark came back to be within the limits of visibility, the AF system immediately picked it back up again. That being said, the visibility at Guadalupe Island is about 70 to 100 feet, which is so far beyond what any acceptable composition distance is for underwater photography.

A major advantage of the autofocus system of the Sony a9 is the ability to track focus WHILE rapid fire burst shooting without any screen or viewfinder blackout. This allows continuous shooting, auto focusing, framing, and zooming all to happen at the same time seamlessly. This was a godsend for the rapidly changing distance to subject and framing that happens as these sharks move through the scene.

For shooting technique, I just mashed down and held the AF-ON button on the back of the camera and the shutter release simultaneously, while at the same time moving the zoom knob and panning the camera for framing the shot. The camera continued to shoot and focus track the subject with no issues. This technique might seem rather crude, but worked quite well given the task at hand.

The Sony a9 is the fastest shooting full frame camera on the planet. Combined with super fast autofocus, it has the ability to capture the subtlest movements. This image sequence was shoot at 20 frames per second. 1/400, F11, ISO 1000

Fastest Shooting Speed for a Full Frame Camera Ever

The Sony a9 can shoot up to 20 frames per second in RAW with a 241 shot buffer when using the electronic shutter, and 5 frames per second with the mechanical shutter. The electronic shutter does not sync with strobes (not that a strobe could keep up!) while the mechanical shutter does sync with strobes. The custom function button C3 is setup from the factory to allow the photographer to choose between mechanical or electronic shutter.

There are three continuous shooting modes on the camera–high, medium, and low. I kept it on continuous high the whole time and used the C3 button to choose between mechanical and electronic depending on whether I wanted to use strobes in the shots.

For shots with strobes, I kept my strobes at 1/4 power to ensure a super fast recycle that would keep up with the camera’s 5 frames per second shutter. We hope that in the future Sony will make an electronic shutter that will sync with strobes and get past the mechanical flash sync speed limit of 1/250 second.

Sony a9 Camera, Nauticam NA-A9 Housing, Sony 16-35mm Lens. Shot at 1/250 F9 ISO 400

Exposure Technique for White Sharks—Auto ISO

With distances and the amount of light reaching the subject changing rapidly with shooting great white sharks, it’s hard to shoot fully manual and nail each exposure each time.

We’re up against a few limits that aren’t exactly ideal for going over to program auto exposure, aperture priority, or shutter priority. A fast shutter speed is needed to freeze the motion of the shark. A higher aperture is needed to get the corners sharp with a wide angle zoom lens behind a dome.

Needing to set both of these in the past has meant needing to shoot full manual exposure, but with Sony’s excellent ISO performance and customizable Auto ISO feature, manual exposure mode with Auto ISO is how I shot each one of these shots in this review.

Sony a9 vs. Sony A7R Mark II vs. Nikon D810

Sony’s stills image quality in their flagship cameras have been at the top of the heap of not only the mirrorless camera category, but also beating out top level SLRs as well for the last few years. The color, sharpness, detail, and noise levels are all excellent and find the Sony a9 among the top of the list in each of these categories.

While the higher resolution cameras of the Sony a7R II and Nikon D810 will edge out the Sony a9 in ultimate image quality, neither of those cameras come close to the speed of this camera, and it’s hard to find another camera besides these two that will outperform the Sony a9 in image quality with what we have available to shoot underwater.

Sony a9 Camera, Nauticam NA-A9 Housing, Sony 16-35mm Lens. Shot at 1/250 F8 ISO 400

Who Is This Camera For?

The Sony a9 doesn’t come cheap. At $ 4,500, it is the most expensive full frame mirrorless camera on the market today. Then again, it’s designed to run head to head against the Nikon D5 which does 12 frames per second, and the Canon 1DX II, which does 16 frames per second—those cameras are $ 6,500 and $ 6,000, respectively.

Sony definitely shakes up the established competition in this area by besting these cameras in terms of overall speed and image quality. While there may be additional features such as 4K 60p video and the best ambient light white balance out there with the Canon 1DX II, the Sony a9 comes in at a much lower price point, especially for the amount of still image shooting performance you’ll get.

If you are someone who likes to shoot fast moving pelagic sea life such as sharks, dolphins, whales, mantas, sailfish, etc., this is definitely the camera for you. The speed of focus, focus tracking and shooting, and 241 RAW shot image buffer is mind boggling and second to none. You’ll be able to get the shot with focus nailed better than any other camera out there today.

For someone who needs more resolution than 24 megapixels, and must have pro level 4K video with accurate custom white balance at depth, those are the only areas where this camera will fall short.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Sony a9 underwater review: Shooting great white sharks

Posted in Uncategorized


Japan Camera Hunter StreetPan 120 Black & White film is now available for preorder

31 Jul

Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter has just launched the JCH StreetPan 120 Black & White film for preorder through the company’s online shop. Hunt first released a 35mm version of the StreetPan film in 2016, and he has now launched this 120 version in response to popular demand.

According to Hunt, “It is the same old StreetPan you know and love, just in a larger size” for medium-format photographers.

Hunt goes on to explain that, while the film is available for preorder now, it is still in production; if everything goes as planned, the film will launch in mid-to-late August with shipping starting in early September. The film is offered in various quantities starting at a 3-pack for ¥3900 / $ 35 USD and ranging up to a 10-pack for ¥13,000 / $ 118 USD. Shipping is available globally.

As with the original StreetPan film, the 120 version offers a very fine grain alongside ‘excellent penetration’ through atmospheric conditions like fog and haze. Japan Camera Hunter explains that this high-speed film is sensitive to red light and has “near IR sensitivity.” Full details on its properties, including development times, are available here.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Japan Camera Hunter StreetPan 120 Black & White film is now available for preorder

Posted in Uncategorized


Now with More Minimalism: Brandless Brand Trademarks Bland White Boxes

28 Jul

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Products & Packaging. ]

Viral Silicon Valley controversies like those revolving around Juicero (a device that squeezed out juice) and Lyft (which seems to be reinventing the bus) are often held us as examples of how innovators are out of touch, which leads us to Brandless, a brand that is apparently reinventing minimalist packaging — the kind of thing that companies like Target have been doing for ages.

To be fair, the Brandless boxes don’t look all that bad, and color-coding products make some sense. Plus, the idea of making everything the same price (three dollars) is fascinating if a bit difficult to scale. They are trying to take things a step further, too, by putting more information on the box (including the Brandless name) and less on the product, which could in theory be a nice way to visually declutter one’s home.

But of course, reality and regulations don’t always play nice with packaging design — for starters, the smooth look is interrupted by a black-printed net weight stamp toward the bottom and other essential labels of that sort. And, really strangely, a white trademark stands out from the colored portion of the product. Naturally, if one wants to order the flat-priced products, a shipping charge also interrupts the otherwise consistent pricing scheme.

None of this is meant to knock the conceptual underpinnings or commercial viability too much — entrepreneurs Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler are clearly tapping into the West Coast demographic that has money and craves simplicity. But their claim to be making something “completely fresh and new” is a bit much — grocery and convenience store chains have been selling products in simplified and distinctive brand-free packages for a long time, with the same mission in mind (to reduce the “brand tax” people pay to get a name-branded version of something).

For now, the company is rolling out around 200 initial products. And, at least for the time being, they are all at the same price point. But one has to wonder: does that flat rate idea really make sense for a growing consumer brand? Surely some things are best bought in bulk to save money, or simply too expensive to sell for a few dollars. And consumers who want one-stop shopping may find their offerings a bit thin. In the struggle for minimalist simplicity, Brandless just may be making things harder on themselves than they have to.

Share on Facebook

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Products & Packaging. ]

[ WebUrbanist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]


Comments Off on Now with More Minimalism: Brandless Brand Trademarks Bland White Boxes

Posted in Creativity


Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

20 Jul

So what exactly is white balance and why is it so important to digital photography?

The rudimentary answer is that light (the foundation of photography) has variable color temperatures at different times of the day. Your eyes are much better at processing color than a digital camera. Thus a white object will always appear white to you, despite the conditions. White balance is the process that the camera uses to remove color casts produced by these different color temperatures and helps your camera emulate whaty our eyes do naturally when dealing with white.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Auto White Balance sometimes give very close results to what you see with your eyes.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Daylight White Balance can be used to enhance the existing colors of your scene.

Auto White Balance (AWB)

The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting helps your camera “guess” the best option or choose the one closest to what your eyes might see. Many times AWB works better when you are outdoors dealing with natural lighting, than with more complex lighting situations.

The White in White Balance

To understand when AWB works well and is applicable, it is also important you understand the different White Balance presets your camera offers. They include; Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, and Fluorescent. Added to these are Flash, Kelvin and Custom White Balance. Of note, the Custom White Balance Mode is used when you have especially challenging lighting conditions and need to lock in your whites based on those conditions. It is an under-used option that gives great results, so check your manual and experiment with it sometime.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Delicate Arch, Utah – shot with the AWB setting.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Delicate Arch, Utah – edited with a Custom White Balance setting.

The Auto White Balance setting assesses your scene and chooses the brightest part of your image as the white point, which unfortunately can vary from one shot to the next. Over the years though, significant improvements have been made to AWB systems and the results are getting better. Even with these developments, it is difficult for Auto White Balance to correct certain kinds of lighting (e.g. artificial or combination lighting setups). Another instance where it’s not recommended to use AWB is when doing panoramic shots, as you run the risk of varying light on your stitched image.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Boats shot with a Custom WB. In a panoramic shot, if AWB is used, it can vary from shot to shot

The opposite problem exists as well – when AWB corrects color casts you do not want it to, such as when you are shooting a sunset or any scene where the color of the light is essential to the image. Some of the White Balance presets listed above, are set in-camera to provide some level of correction to typical lighting scenarios. Here you tell the camera the right setting for the occasion and take more control over your final image.

RAW Power

If you shoot in RAW, you are probably aware that RAW files retain all the color data captured by your camera. This retention allows you to change or choose a different White Balance setting while post-processing your RAW files. Some argue that even with this handy feature, AWB does not give you the best colors.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Shot with Daylight WB (camera) vs processed Daylight WB (Photoshop)

Another perspective of setting White Balance in camera ensures that in the processing stage, your color rendition is consistent across all your shots (e.g. when shooting a wedding). Also of note, AWB can give you different results within the same scene. So you can go from one set of colors in a wide-angle shot to a different set of colors when you zoom in. Both of these are examples of losing the harmony when you are working on a series of images.

Taking Control

You may use AWB because it is easier to let the camera figure out the white balance based on the scene in front of you. However, as stated before, it is useful when you know how and when to use it. Setting white balance is not as daunting as it sounds though and when the conditions are not variable, you only need to set your white balance once (for those conditions).

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Using RAW and WB to take control of the appearance of your results.

So, if you are outdoors on a sunny day, set your white balance to Daylight or Sunny. If it is cloudy, choose the Cloudy white balance and similarly if you are in shade, choose Shade. These are very straightforward to remember based on the easy naming convention. When indoors, for incandescent lights, choose Tungsten (or Incandescent) and when shooting an area with fluorescent lights, choose Fluorescent. This is called setting your white balance to match your shooting conditions.

You can also set your white balance to modify your existing conditions. Once you start experimenting with white balance and understand how it affects your images, use it to get creative or make your image look either warmer or cooler.

Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

White Balance used to make the image look cooler.


Auto White Balance is a handy setting to have when you are unsure of what white balance would work for your scene. If you shoot in RAW, you can easily change your White Balance after the fact to find the best option.

If you want more control of your results, choose one of the camera white balance presets, already tailored for specific conditions, or create your own (custom white balance). Setting your white balance eliminates that extra post-processing step of fixing it from scene to scene and gives you more consistent results.

What is your go-to white balance and are you a fan of using AWB? Tell me in the comments below.

The post Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay? by Nisha Ramroop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on Auto White Balance: Yay or Nay?

Posted in Photography


Corephotonics publishes white paper on dual-cameras and image fusion

16 Jul

Not too many smartphone users have heard of Corephotonics, but the Israeli technology company is one of the innovation drivers in the area of dual-cameras, with its zoom technology currently shipping in devices ranging from Xiaomi, to OPPO, to OnePlus and others. It’s also the company behind the 5x zoom camera with folding optics that was displayed at MWC by Oppo.

Now Corephotonics has published a white paper titled “Image Fusion – How to Best Utilize Dual Cameras for Enhanced Image Quality” that was authored by the company’s Director of Product Marketing, Roy Fridman, and Director of Algorithms, Oded Gigushinski.

The paper looks at the challenges that have to be overcome when adding a second camera in either Wide + Tele or Color + Monochrome setups, such as calibration issues, how to switch between cameras in a way that enhances user experience and how to optimize image quality using algorithms and software tools.

The document is written in an easy-to-understand way and makes for interesting reading for anyone who wants to dive a little deeper into the dual-cam and image fusion topics. If that describes you, you can find the white paper on the Corephotonics website.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Corephotonics publishes white paper on dual-cameras and image fusion

Posted in Uncategorized


Siberia Space: Russian Town Tints Its White Winter World

26 Jun

[ By Steve in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The tiny Siberian town of Ust-Yansk counters the pervasive whiteness of long & snowy winters by cladding its buildings in a rainbow of contrasting colors.

To say Ust-Yansk is isolated is an understatement: the nearest sizable town (Deputatsky, pop. 2,983) lies 302 miles (486 kilometers) to the southeast. Ust-Yansk itself boasts a population of just 317 (as of 2010, down from 341 in 2002). Both towns are located in Russia’s Sakha Republic, a sprawling Siberian territory slightly smaller than India but with just a thousandth of the latter’s population. The photo above shows Ust-Yansk from the distance of about 1 kilometer or about 6/10th of a mile.

Never a wealthy locality, Ust-Yansk fell on hard(er) times in the 1990s when the fall of communism left Russia’s backwater districts pretty much to their own devices. In Ust-Yansk’s case, those devices consisted mainly of mining, reindeer herding and fishing – activities requiring decent weather to function to their potential. Being that Ust-Yansk lies deep in northern Siberia, the weather is usually anything BUT decent. To quote the Wikipedia entry on Deputatsky, “Winters are prolonged and bitterly cold, with up to seven months of sub-zero high temperatures.” Nice. The unrestored buildings above, photographed by blogger BASOV-CHUKOTKA, look about as miserable as their inhabitants must have felt.

The East Is Red, Blue, Yellow, Green…

Snow falls early and often in Ust-Yansk, and when it falls it stays – like most tundra towns built on the permafrost, Ust-Yansk’s buildings rest on stilts to prevent heat from melting the frozen ground beneath. This type of construction can be expensive, however, but after the turn of the century rising oil prices flooded Russia’s coffers with bright, shiny rubles and towns like Ust-Yansk began to reap the benefits.

New construction and renovation transformed Ust-Yansk into a more livable town but what really stands out in these photographs taken in May of 2017 are the wealth of colors! From rich primary hues to more delicate pastel tints, Ust-Yansk brilliantly refutes the popular image of Siberia as a dreary place fit only for marginalized indigenous tribes and prisoners of the soviet Gulag. Well, it’s a start at least.

Next Page – Click Below to Read More:
Siberia Space Russian Town Tints Its White Winter World

Share on Facebook

[ By Steve in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

[ WebUrbanist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]


Comments Off on Siberia Space: Russian Town Tints Its White Winter World

Posted in Creativity


Video: How to shoot white products on a white background

03 Jun

Shooting products on a white background is a common setup for anyone selling online. But how do you handle shooting a white product on a white background? The trick is to completely separate one’s foreground lighting from the background lighting. Pro photographer David Patino breaks down how to do it in this short, but useful PDN video.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Video: How to shoot white products on a white background

Posted in Uncategorized


Swimming with giants: Black and white whale portraiture by Jem Cresswell

02 Jun

Creativity showcase site My Modern Met recently interviewed Jem Cresswell, an Australian photographer who has just completed a project he calls Giants. The project is a series of portraits of humpback whales presented in black and white and offers an intimate look into the personalities and emotions of these ‘gentle giants.’

In the interview, Cresswell describes his process (much of which you can see from the behind-the-scenes video above), as well as some interesting details concerning his interactions with the whales. In addition to only swimming with ‘certain whales,’ Cresswell says they never use scuba gear and he always enters the water ‘as calmly as possible, keeping my heart rate low and wait to see the behaviour.’

The interview also addresses the presence of ‘spindle cells’ in humpback whales, which are cells that are thought to be responsible for social organization and empathy. ‘It is obvious though, that humpback whales exhibit complex emotional behaviors, have intricate social networks and complex song structures,’ says Cresswell.

Head on over to My Modern Met or Cresswell’s website to view these stunning portraits for yourself – all of which, Cresswell says, were captured on a Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm F2.8L II and 16-35mm F4L in an Aquatech underwater housing.

Via: My Modern Met

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Swimming with giants: Black and white whale portraiture by Jem Cresswell

Posted in Uncategorized


How to Use White Balance as a Creative Tool

02 Jun

White Balance is almost always used to match what colors our cameras detect to the colors we see with our eyes. Our brains are very good at managing how we see color. A sunny day looks warm and bright, but the actual color of the light is skewed heavily blue. Indoors, incandescent lights are notoriously warm (yellow/orange) and though our eyes may detect little of this warmth, you can bet our cameras will. White Balance is how we correct for that difference in light color, and how we can make images appear “natural” which is to say, how our brains detect it.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

Auto White Balance

It’s useful, certainly, but most of us leave it up to the camera to make the decision about White Balance. I know I do. My cameras are almost always set to Auto White Balance. Since I shoot in RAW, any errors that the camera makes can quickly be corrected in post-processing. At this point, I rarely even think about White Balance. But, perhaps I should…

White Balance can be more than a mindless setting of camera functions or a digital slider in Lightroom. Instead, it can be used as a creative tool. Slight changes in White Balance can change the tone and impact of your images. From dramatic color shifts to subtle changes in tonality, it’s time to elevate White Balance into the realm of creative options in photography.

The methods I’ll discuss here can be done either in camera or in post-processing, but it’s easier using the latter since you can see the impact of your choices real time. Although I use Adobe Lightroom, any program that allows you to adjust White Balance will work.

Dramatic Shifts in White Balance

Big shifts in White Balance can completely change the nature of your image. Shifts from cool to warm tones can take the image from looking as though it was made during the blue hour to post-dawn, or even make the weather appear to change.

A few years ago I was leading a wilderness/photo tour in the Noatak National Preserve in northwestern Alaska. One evening, an afternoon storm was clearing off the mountains and I went down to the river to make a few images. The light was pink, the rolling clouds and falling rain lit by the low sun.

Below are three versions of the same image with only the White Balance changed. You can see the huge difference made by the shift from warm to cool tones. The bluest image is set 3600K, the warmest to 14750K, and the one somewhere in between is 7000K. In the end, you’ll probably choose an image that is neither overly cool, nor overly warm, but how the White Balance setting changes the feel of the image is worth noting.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance set to 3600K.

White Balance as a Creative Tool


White Balance as a Creative Tool


Here is another example using autumn foliage, in this case, a Dwarf Birch in Alaska. The top image is 5050K, very close to what the Auto function on my camera selected, in the second I’ve warmed the image to 9000K. Although I prefer the cooler tones, I could see the second version appealing to editors looking for an autumn spread in a magazine or catalog.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance set to 5050K.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance set to 9000K.

Subtle Shifts in White Balance

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance set to 4350K.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance set to 8700K.

Subtle shifts in White Balance can also be effective, even though differences between images may be less obvious. A change of a few hundred to a couple thousand Kelvin (the K measurement used in White Balance) can make a surprising difference to the impact of an image. In the top photo, I chose a cool setting (4350K) which brings out the cool winter tones. The second is much warmer, set to 8700k, which to me, (aside from being a bit too warm) feels like an evening storm is approaching. Neither is exactly “accurate” to the scene as I saw it, but neither are they necessarily unnatural. I’ll return to this image shortly.


Water strikes most people as a cool substance, and often it looks better when a White Balance with more blue-tone is selected. I made this image on a day with broken clouds, in autumn, in a small mountain range north of my home in Alaska. Tiny patches of the sun were penetrating the yellow, shrubby willows which surrounded this small creek. The yellow leaves and the partially overcast sky gave the scene a notably warm tone which you can see in the top image, set to 4600K (as selected by my camera’s Auto White Balance setting). I think it’s too warm, so just a subtle push to the blue range (4100K) was enough to retain the warm tone in the single yellow leaf but sufficient enough to cool the water.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance 4600K as chosen by the camera using AWB.

White Balance as a Creative Tool

White Balance adjusted to 4600K in post-processing makes the water feel much cooler.


Sunsets too can benefit from a little creative tweaking of the White Balance. From the bluff above a beach in Homer, Alaska, I made the image below. The cooler-toned toned image was shot using Auto White Balance (4600K), while the second I warmed up to 6000K in processing. I like both versions. So you can see that selecting a White Balance is very much a matter of taste, and how you want your image to come across to your audience. Which version do you prefer?

White Balance 4600K as shot using AWB.

White Balance adjusted to 6000K in post-processing.

Selective Changes to White Balance

The great part about digital post-processing is that you don’t have to choose one White Balance or another, you can mix and match. My choice of software, Adobe Lightroom, allows you to use the Adjustment Brush to grab certain parts of your frame, and independently adjust them from the rest of the image.

The photo below was made around the same time as the leaf in the stream I discussed earlier. In this case, a global (over the entire image) adjustment made the sprig of autumn colors look too cool and weird, even though the water was about right. So I cooled the whole image off to 3700K, then selected the sprig and bumped the Temperature setting to +35 using the Adjustment Brush.

As I was playing with the snowy mountain image I discussed early, I realized I liked neither the blue nor the overly warm version. I thought some combination might work well. So I set the overall tone slightly blue to 5100K and selected just the mountain, where the hint of sunlight was shedding some warmer light and gave that a boost to +23. The result works.

White Balance set to 5100K overall with warmth added to the top of the mountains using the Adjustment Brush.

Compare this version which is at 5000K with no extra adjustments on the mountains. See how subtle the difference is? But the version above feels little warmer in the sunlit areas.

White Balance in Black and White

We think of White Balance as strictly related to color, but in fact, it can play an important role in black and white as well. The White Balance used in your final image can impact cont st, and the way different shades of gray are presented in the final image.

To get the full impact, you need to use that White Balance slider in a big way. That means doing big pushes from warm to cool, not little subtle shifts of a few hundred or thousand Kelvin.


I was on the Alaska Ferry making images on a very gray and rainy winter day when we passed this small speck of an island with a few wind-blown spruce trees growing on it. I knew it was a black and white kind of scene, so I quickly removed the color using Lightroom. When I moved the White Balance to one side or the other it created a big change in the contrast and overall brightness of the photo. The top image is set well to the blue range (3700K) while the second is way over in the warm range (32,700K). You can see how the warm setting removed some contrast and brightened the photo.



A snowy landscape image on a beach near Haines, Alaska provided another chance to explore how White Balance impacts a black and white scene. The left image is set to 3700K, the right to 35,000K.



Lastly, is this simple composition of a dew-covered spider web. The top image has high contrast, is dark overall, with clean white dew drops and is set 2000K, (as cool as Lightroom will allow). The second is much grayer, with substantially less contrast, and is as high as Lightroom will allow at 50,000K. There is no question, I prefer the first version. But many images, such as the two examples above depend more on personal taste.




It is time to stop thinking of White Balance as strictly a way to accurately present color, and instead, embrace it as a creative tool. Whether it is for dramatic impact, subtle changes, selective adjustments, or even (counter-intuitively) using it in black and white photography – White Balance can play an important part in the outcome of your images. Consider it, use it. Embrace White Balance as more than just a setting.

The post How to Use White Balance as a Creative Tool by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on How to Use White Balance as a Creative Tool

Posted in Photography