If you don’t already know Kelvin, he could be a best friend when you are out taking photographs.
Kelvin is the measurement of colour temperature and is a digital camera’s way of handling the ambient light around you to give a balanced output that matches pretty well what you see.
The white balance function on DSLR cameras holds a common set of ‘presets’ from Auto through to K (Kelvins!). By dialing the white balance to K you are NOW allowing yourself total control over the camera’s white balance, and not allowing the camera to give you one of its preset values.
This is absolutely not intended to be a physics lesson so I will keep it simple. If you dial in a low number of around 2,000 K’s the resulting shot will have a cold, bluey cast. If you progress through the stages that K offers, the shot will gradually become warmer. Most cameras offer staged numbers from around 2,000K to 10,000K or thereabouts.
Try it. Set your camera white balance to 2,000 or thereabouts and look at the result. Then take exactly the same composition again, this time around 9,000. See the difference? One is a ‘cold morning’, the other is a ‘sunset evening’.
Of course you can try every K setting in between as well, but as a rough guide normal daylight around noon is approximately 5,500 degrees kelvin.
There. You now have even more control over your camera settings. Sure you can alter the White Balance settings on the RAW converter at home provided you did shoot in RAW but this method shows you, when taking the shot, how it will look. More choice!
Setting on auto white balance
Setting on 8,500 degrees Kelvin