Color Temperature Explained

Color Temperature Explained.

Although most light bulbs in your home look white, light actually comes in a few different colors. For example, a fluorescent light bulb creates a different color temperature of light than an incandescent bulb. This is comparable to a sunset where the sun emits an orange light.

Because of the array of colors of light, DSLR cameras are designed with a setting that can auto-correct an image so white objects are white in the photograph under different lighting situations. This process is called Auto White Balance Mode. Even Though a humans eye will automatically adapt to changing lighting situations to sense correct color, a camera must be adjusted in order to have accurate color reproduction. Which makes Automatic White Balance so important to produce the most accurate colors in a digital photo. Understanding how to perfect white balance in-camera is one of the most important and valuable, time-saving skills you can learn as a photographer.

The Color temperature of a light is measured on the Kelvin Scale. This temperature scale most often used in photography ranging from about 2000K to 9000K. When shooting in Kelvin, a photographer is manually adjusting the white balance to match that of the Kelvin temperature in the location. Shade is often set at around 7500K, while daylight is about 5500K and sunset should be 2500K. When using the Kelvin scale to adjust the white balance towards orange will in turn create a warm feeling. On the other hand, adjusting the white balance towards blue will create a cooler look. Previously, a film photographer would use warming and cooling filters to create such a effect, but digital photography makes it very simple to adjust the white balance in camera.

White balance is one of the many reasons many photographers shoot RAW files opposed to JPEG. A RAW file allows adjusting the white balance to be as simple as using a slider in Adobe's Lightroom or Photoshop. RAW files also makes it easier to change a purple or green hue as well. Without correct light, there is no photography and every great photographer must understand color temperature in order to master light.  

If you are interested in learning more about the basics of photography or videography, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to hear from you. You can reach The Burnette Agency by email at or give us a call at 404-850-2081.