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Sometimes, however, a white balance system can take away more than just the colour of the light on the subject. It’s the yellow of the homely light peeking through the crack in the curtains that is welcoming, and can be used to create a comforting image. If the yellow is taken away, the light may lose much of its appeal. The colour in light creates atmosphere – making a scene seem warm, cool, welcoming, hostile, even happy or sad.

To enhance atmosphere we can use the ‘wrong’ White Balance settings for the scene we are shooting. If we want to keep the warm feeling of the sun setting over the sea, then we need to set the white balance to daylight. We can warm-up a scene on an uninspiring day using the Shade setting to add pinks, reds and yellows to the image. Equally, icy peaks and the world beneath the waves can be enhanced through use of the Tungsten setting to add a touch of blue.

The same scene shot in Daylight and Tungsten. Daylight setting lends the image more warmth

It’s worth taking the time to understand your camera’s White Balance settings as they allow you powerful control of the colours the camera records. Capture accuracy or create a fantasy.