Be Aware of Artificial Light

The night I was enjoying an ice cream at the Sweet Inspirations Drive-In near Fulton, New York, was the night I got a little smarter.  During my exposures of the popular ice cream stand and restaurant, the light would look greenish-yellow.  I know I could fix it in post though it can make the other colors muddy.

Instead, I went and looked at the light fixtures and noticed they were florescent with some incandescent lights mixed in.  The reason for the green and yellow mix.  I switched my camera from Auto White Balance to Florescent.  I liked the results much better.

White Balance Examples

White Balance Examples.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 2s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 58mm focal length, tripod.

The exposure was the same for both photos. Only the White Balance setting was changed.

Switching the White Balance to Fluorescent gave much truer colors and added a punch of blue to the sky. Normally, Nikon’s Auto White Balance is all I need. Tricky lighting like this had me looking for a better setting. Something I will be more aware of in the future.

For more about White Balance in Digital Photography, visit these links:

Introduction to White Balance

Understanding White Balance

Photography Fundamentals: White Balance

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10 Responses to Be Aware of Artificial Light

  1. kanniduba says:

    I admit the white balance is something I forget to consider regularly. Thanks for the reminder Scott. 🙂


    • Hi, KD…I see you have been blogging again. Will catch up with you soon!

      I must admit I rely on Auto White Balance for the most part. I need to become more aware of artificial and ambient light sources and use White Balance settings correctly and creatively.


  2. Karma says:

    Good reminder Scott. I admit to using auto white balance most of the time too, but playing around with the other selections does often give a truer color when I get frustrated that the camera isn’t showing me what I see with my eyes. Now if I could just find the trick for recording a true-looking red. Haven’t solved that mystery yet.


    • You mean RED or not that red? 🙂 I like to set my cameras to Vivid color and that really saturates reds. I switch to a more Standard color setting when I am photographing people or if the color Red is prominent in the frame. These are Nikon Picture Color settings tweaked a bit per Ken Rockwell’s recommendations.


  3. Dawn says:

    You remind us to stop being lazy with the auto white balance… 🙂 A few adjustments and a much better image emerges.


  4. Nye says:

    I use auto white balance a lot also, and only use different setting when the colors look funky.


  5. I have admired your pictures on flickr and was impressed by the result of the use of fluorescent white balance. I do not know much about it but will learn now, thank you Scott.


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