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White Balance For Sunset Shots

Sunset warmth can be created with the camera's white balance settings without using a neutral density (ND) filter.

This white balance setting is particularly helpful if shooting in JPEG. JPEG images have more limitations in processing their details later. Therefore, the in-camera adjustment has to be almost precise to get the result.

RAW images can be post-processed later with any digital post-processing software to obtain the desired result. However, shooting in RAW doesn't mean that you should neglect all the necessary in-camera settings. Therefore, applying some correct settings to the white balance will ensure that you get almost the same result as you see at the time of the shoot.

Jewel Bridge in Punggol, Singapore at sunset.
Fujifilm X-T100, ISO400, f/11, 1/60

This photo was shot in JPEG with a very simple setting to the White Balance for this warm hue.

How to create the desired sunset warmth?

Colour temperature is adjusted to the desired result using Kelvin (K) temperature which those presets white balance might not be able to achieve.

Here are the step-by-step techniques to set the white balance settings for sunset using the K temperature.

White balance setting on camera using K-temperature.

Scroll to the White Balance menu to look for Kelvin (K) temperature. The scale of K temperature is from 1000K to 10000K. Always start from 5000K for a neutral colour. Then increase the K number to get a warmer tone. Decreasing the number will result in a cooler tone.

Adjust the tint to make further colour adjustments.

Next, adjust the White Balance Shift to fine-tune the white balance. In most cameras, the White Balance Shift is within the White Balance K Temperature. To find it, shift right using the menu dial or cursor after selecting the desired K Temperature.

Click the shutter to see the result.

Capturing the colours of twilight.

At the twilight moment, the sky is almost diffused and pink tones are starting to immerse. This is the same location as the first photo. It was shot about 20 minutes later.

The colour temperature is kept at 5000K for warmth. Only slight changes were made to the White Balance Shift.

The White Balance Shift was positioned between Amber and Magenta to draw out the twilight layers of pink and red tones in the sky.

This is the final result with the White Balance settings.

White balance in photography is to adjust the colours of an image to make it look natural. It is also used to adjust colours to match colours derived from various light sources. This is taught in my photography workshops in Singapore and abroad.


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