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Getting Creative with White Balance - RAW Photography quick tip

Getting Creative with White Balance
RAW Photography quick tip

Aegean Sunset Before & After - View: Large Size

All digital cameras can capture the image from the sensor into a JPEG or RAW file using settings for white balance, colour saturation, contrast, and sharpness that are either selected automatically or entered manually by the photographer before taking the picture.

However, RAW has numerous advantages over JPEG such as higher image quality bypassing undesired steps in the camera's processing, higher dynamic range, finer control, 12 or 14 bits of intensity information (not the gamma-compressed 8 bits stored in JPEG files), and much much more. The ability to control White Balance is one of the greatest advantages of RAW over JPEG.

White balance is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light. Most people approach White Balance with the mindset of getting true color representation and that's the right thing to do. You want your whites to be white and all your other colors to be true representations of the original scene as you shot it.

But sometimes you can play with White Balance to achieve artistic effects and a more interesting photo. For example i shot the above sunset (Canon 7D, 17-55) in the middle of the Aegean sea. The original file is nice with a more accurate color representation of the actual scene i was looking at but, is it interesting?

In order to make the shot more interesting i deliberately dialed "wrong" White Balance settings for a more dramatic effect. At the screenshots below you can see the Adobe Camera RAW Settings of the Original RAW File as well as the Edited File. Don't be afraid to play with White Balance, you can have wonderful results and much more interesting shots.

Original RAW File

Adobe Camera RAW

Edited RAW File

Adobe Camera RAW settings

Download: RAW Photo Before & After [large size]