The Power of White Balance in Landscape Photography

Mar 30, 2021
How to take better landscape images

White balance in photography is the adjustment and fine-tuning of colour within an image. White balance in landscape photography has many freedoms that cannot always be applied within other photography genres. 

One of the enjoyable things about white balance adjustments, which can occur both in-camera and during post-processing, is that minor tweaks can change the overall feeling and mood within a landscape image.

To explain how white balance can impact mood within landscape photography, some discussion is needed about colour theory. Colour theory teaches us that there are warm and cool colours. Warm colours are colours such as red, yellow and orange. Cool colours are blues, greens and purples. 

When it comes to the overall feeling and mood within a landscape image, cool colours can evoke a peaceful and calming mood, while warm colours can feel more energetic and vibrant. 

Take a look at the below image: 

When I processed this image, I was immediately drawn to the warm light and the contrast between the cool ice and open water. I wanted to enhance the feeling of energy and vitality (play up the unfrozen parts in the image in contrast to the ice and snow). My colour choice when processing this image was intentional, and I adjusted colours towards the red, yellow and orange hues to visually convey warmth. 

ISO 31, 19mm, f11, 20sec

Here's the same image adjusted towards a cooler colour scheme with deeper blue and magenta tones. Immediately this image feels colder to me, and the energy shifts from vibrant to more still and calm. 

ISO 31, 19mm, f11, 20sec

White balance and use of colour is a great way for you to become more intentional about mood and feeling in your images. There is usually no right or wrong when moving an image towards a cooler or warmer colour theme, so don't be afraid to think about what emotions you want to help evoke in a landscape scene you've captured.