Setting a weird white balance in the camera is not a good idea unless you mean to do it.
For example, I have read of some photographers who will set tungsten lighting for a scene lit by some other part of the spectrum. Or of photographers who put coloured gels over a small flashgun and alter the light that way.
I think the conventional wisdom is that you can pull anything ‘back from the dead’ with RAW files. I recall reading an article by Ctein, though, that made the point that even RAW files bake in some information and discard other bits of information. And lighting and the part of the spectrum that is captured is one part of that information puzzle.
Where I am going with this is that I normally leave the camera on auto-white-balance. But sometimes I knock cameras off their regular settings.
I have done that with Nikon cameras a couple of times. I will be holding one of the buttons and spinning one or other of the dials, and… Bingo, I have changed a value I didn’t intend to touch.
Part of the problem comes from me not looking at the dials as I am spinning them. I get overconfident that I know what I am doing, so I do it by touch. Big mistake, sometimes.
Five years ago when we were on Dartmoor when I inadvertently set white balance to something very odd.
Whatever I did, all the photos from the day came out with the colours looking distinctly ‘off’.
And although I was shooting RAW, I have never been able to rescue an image I am happy with. If I correct one colour, another goes awry.
I Had Another Go At Getting A Good Image
Today I have been making greeting cards, and I was looking back through the photos of the ponies on Dartmoor and had another go at resurrecting one of the photos.
I am not happy with it, but I recall the scene with the horse so clearly that I want to put it up here.
When I saved the JPEG to upload to the web, I called the image ‘The call of the wild’. I think that name is true to the feeling of what it was like to be on that lovely moor.
Click on the image to see a larger version. You may have to click again once the image comes up, in order to see the largest-size version of the image.
Here’s the article – Up Close With Ponies On Dartmoor – that my wife wrote when were on Dartmoor. There are other photos there too, so you can see how the shots came out then.