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Color Temperature in Digital Photography

By Phineas Upham

One of the reasons digital photography has become so popular is that it’s very easy to control for elements of the photo you don’t want, once your photo is shot. You have to take decent pictures to start with, but you can correct everything from exposure to color temperature in order to get the look you really want. Here are some tips to help you unlock the potential of your photo collection.

Color Temperature Explained

Photographers use the terms “warm” and “cool” to describe the color of light in a photograph. The best way to explain it is to use real world examples. If you notice, the view outside your window will change depending on whether the sunlight is bright and intense, or if cloud cover is present. That change in color is best expressed as a temperature.

Warm Colors

Warm colors have a tendency to make people perceive a photograph as being full of sunlight, which is why they are called “warm”. Warm colors tend to highlight shadows well, giving a good sense of depth, which is why are often used to photograph real estate. Warm colors are made up of reds, yellows and oranges, or some combination of all three.

If you have shots that were taken in the early or later part of the day, then warming them up can make your highlights stand out better and improve color composition.

Cool Colors

Cooler colors are usually made of blues, or have some kind of blue tint to them. In most photo editing programs, greens, blues and cyans are used as cooler colors.  Cooler colors are best used for shady shots, or as a correction to over-exposed shots taken in the middle of the day.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.