Have fun experimenting with white balance tweaks

Did you know that white balance is the quickest way to turn your camera into an InstaLomoCrosstography machine?

This tutorial is a fun, simple way to play with colour a la Instagram or Lomography without any apps or chemicals!

All you need to do is take the correct white balance and set it to the “wrong” white balance to get sweet shifts in tones and colours.

We put together a guide on exactly what kind of colour shifts you’ll get with each setting. No Android-based technology here. You can do it all with the settings your camera already has!

Create Sweet White Balance Experiments

Why it’s cool:

ingred-smDid you know that your brain has magic colour changing abilities? Well, sort of.

Your brain can’t change it’s own colour (bummer!), but it does an awesome job at making sure the colour white always looks that way. In other words, our brains are stuck in Auto White Balance.

Our cameras are a bit different. To them, white isn’t always white, but is influenced by the source of the light, whether it’s a buzzy fluorescent light in the ceiling or a cozy tungsten bulb under a lampshade.

This technique involves forcing your camera’s white balance to the incorrect setting for the scene so that the colours are purposely skewed. Sometimes it looks a little weird, and sometimes it looks awesome; it’s all about experimenting, with no computer or fancy editing programs required!

For an awesome explanation on how to achieve correct white balance and colour temperatures, follow this tutorial by our friends over at SLR Lounge!



  • A camera that allows access to white balance settings
  • A willingness to experiment!

STEP 1: Locating White Balance Settings

paint-smFirst things first, we need to locate where the White Balance settings are on the camera.

Here’s where ours is located. Look for the letters “WB” or the for “White Balance” if it’s under a set of menus.

Step 2: Crack The Code: Figure Out The Symbols

paint-sm White Balance settings are most often denoted by a set of symbols that represent the light source. They either warm things up, or cool them down!

  • AWB or A: Auto, correct White Balance
  • Sun: Sunshine or Daylight. Neutral.
  • House Casting a Shadow: Shade. The warmest.
  • Cloud: Cloudy. Very warm.
  • Light Bulb: Tungsten Light Bulbs. Very cool, very blue.
  • Glowing Rectangle: Fluorescent Light Bulbs. Cool blue and purple
  • Lightning Bolt: Flash. Warm.
  • Square Floating Over Triangles: Custom
  • K: Specific Kelvin Temperature

Step 3: Time to Play

paint-smNow that you now where the settings are located and what each symbol means, it’s time to start experimenting!

Remember, the AWB or Auto setting will let your camera determine the correct White Balance for the scene; we want to set the “wrong” White Balance to get cool colours!

Featured below are examples of how you can use this technique!

Outside: Cloudy Day Meets Fluorescent and Shade

paint-smIn this example, the natural light was from an overcast day (lame!).
In this instance, Cloudy would be the correct setting. Compare that to the Shade and Fluorescent settings.

The Shade setting is much warmer, which gives a stronger orange and yellow hue. The Fluorescent setting adds some neat purple and blue hues.

Outside: Cloudy Day Meets Fluorescent and Tungsten

This time we paired up another overcast day (round 2!) with Fluorescent and Tungsten.

We have to admit, the Fluorescent setting is one of our favs for getting sweet colors

Inside: Fluorescent meets K10,000 and K2,500

paint-sm This time we’re inside under a mix of Fluorescent and Daylight.

We got even more experimental this time and tried to dial in our own Kelvin temperatures for the white balance! 2,500 Kelvin shifts the photo towards blue, and 10,000 Kelvin shifts the photo towards a warm orange.

Real Life Use

paint-smUsing the “wrong” White Balance goes against the grain for most photography teachings, so we want to share an awesome photographer that uses this technique to achieve great results.

His name is Ryan Waite, and he creates some really sweet portraits! He shared a few tips with us on how to use White Balance to get cool effects. These are a little more advanced and will likely require some editing software to accomplish.

  • Shift the White Balance to “bring out different tones in the skin and create emphasis on certain areas of the face in unique ways.” This can influence the reds and blues in skin tone, or change the highlights and shadows. (seen above!)
  • Push the White Balance so that it’s “excessively warm and then lower the saturation for an aged, vintage feel.” A sepia-esque look without the monotone.
  • In post-production, “you have easy access to the color temperature and the tint. The temperature is great for creating warm and cool effects, but tint can specifically bring out the purples and greens in a photo.” Boost the magenta tint in afternoon sun to get beautiful yellows and purples, or boost greens for trees and plants to make them pop!

Extra Tips

  • Try it for Black and White photos: the colours from the original can make a huge difference before you convert! Try warming up the white balance and shifting the tint all the way green.
  • Go full analog: grab some film balanced for a particular light source and shoot it in another.
  • Use Live View to see the results in real time!

[Article reblogged from the wonderful Photojojo.]

thoughts? let me know what you think!

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