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Color of Light: White Balance Choice for Deep Shade

by Jim Zuckerman

Church in Bali, Indonesia
Church in Bali, Indonesia
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
I photographed "Church in Bali, Indonesia" when I led a photo tour to this island nation last summer. It was taken at 6 am, and the sun hadn't risen yet. The lighting was akin to deep shade, and instead of switching the white balance setting to cloudy to eliminate the blue color, I used daylight instead. This insured that I would capture a wonderful mood because I knew I'd get the blue tones, and of course I could see the results on the LCD monitor.

I could always change the white balance in either Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom because I only shoot in RAW mode, but I like what this saturated, blue color did to this scene. I think it makes this shot a lot more captivating that it otherwise would have been.

Alaskan Tree Stump
Alaskan Tree Stump
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
I used the same approach in photographing "Alaskan Tree Stump" that was exposed by the retreat of a glacier 4000 years ago. The interstadial stump was taken midday, but the sky was overcast and the ancient tree was in the deep shade giving me the blue tone typical of this kind of soft light in combination with a daylight white balance.

Don't be so fast in using the cloudy white balance setting when shooting in shade. I much prefer daylight because of the moody feeling that a rich blue or cyan color brings to certain images.

More on Jim Zuckerman...

Jim teaches at BetterPhoto's digital photography school online. His interactive Web courses include:

Photo How-to Books...

Jim Zuckerman contributed to two recent BetterPhoto Guide books co-authored by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager:

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Jim Zuckerman
Photography Instructor: Jim ZuckermanFew people are able to spend most of their time pursuing their passion in life. I'm one of them, and I feel blessed to have had a love affair with photography since I began taking pictures.

In 1970, I decided to abort my intended career as a doctor in favor of photography and have never regretted it. Photography has enriched my life more than I can tell you. My career has taken me to over 60 countries, and I've seen and photographed wondrous things.

I specialize in wildlife and nature, international travel, and digital effects. In addition, I also shoot nudes, photo- and electron microscopy, children, and other subjects that stimulate my visual or emotional sensibilities.

For 25 years, I shot a medium format camera, specifically the Mamiya RZ 67, for its superior quality. When I would lecture, Id project the large, glass mounted transparencies, and it was really an incredible experience to see the brilliant color saturation and resolution of these slides. However, I went digital in 2004 because the technology finally equaled or surpassed medium format. I now shoot the Canon 1Ds Mark II digital camera with a variety of lenses.

I am the author of 12 books on photography. My work is sold in 30 countries around the world, and my images have appeared on scores of magazine and book covers, calendars, posters, national ads, trade ads, brochures, and corporate promotions.

For many years I've led photography tours to exotic places. These include Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Burma, Greece, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, Spain, Morocco, and Peru.

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