White balance and night photography

Modern cameras are quite good at determining the white balance in normal conditions but night photography with multiple light sources like the one above makes the task quite complex. The old rule still applies; make sure you take a picture of something white/gray with the same lightning conditions – or better yet, include something white/gray in the composition. In this shot I was lucky in that I knew that the speed limit sign for boats have a white area so I could use that.
If you forgot to get a reference here are some temperature values that you can use as reference:

  • 1750 K  – Open flame (Match or candle)
  • 3000 K  – Flourecant lamps (lower for incandescent, higher for studio lights)
  • 4100 K  – Moonlight
  • 5000 K  – Horizon daylight
  • 5700 K  – Vertical daylight
  • 6500 K  – Daylight overcast
  • 15000 K- Clear night sky (could go as high as 25000 K)

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