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3 Tips for Adjusting White Balance in Harsh Light

August 07, 2018
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White balance is one of the simpler settings for manual photography. Not all light is created equal—it’s imperative to understand the basic essentials of what white balance is and how we can adjust it under harsher lighting conditions.

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1. Find The Shade; Make it Cool

Midday, sunny light is no easy feat. Finding even the smallest sliver of shade will help combat any unwarranted harshness. A rock, a bush, a giant canyon wall—anything. Once you find solitude, adjust the white balance to a few stops warmer than you normally would under direct light. 

Shade makes it cooler (literally and figuratively), so add back that warmth by shifting your white balance to a higher temperature.

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2. Sunny Subjects

Skin looks divine once placed under direct, harsh light. Who would have thunk? 

Let the hair shine under the sunny splendor and embrace the juicy lemons Mother Nature’s giving you. Your white balance settings should still accurately reflect your subject’s skin tone, so making it as neutral as possible will yield best results by keeping your meter in the middle.

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3. Shoot In Direct Sunlight

The purpose of white balance is to accurately incorporate the same neutral colors and tones seen by the naked eye into your photography. When the sun is placed behind the subject, the colors and tones will become more dull, making it more difficult to appropriate tone. As the photographer, have YOUR back to the sun and shoot directly into the daylight for a brighter, cleaner image. Adjust your white balance a few stops warmer to reflect the sunny environment as part of your image’s story.

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Although most smartphones have automatic white balance settings in your camera, customizing your own will enable you to take your photos to the next level, especially when shooting in less-than-desired lighting conditions.