Color Temperature and Hue – The Digital Photography Workflow Handbook

Color Temperature and Hue

You can manipulate color temperature at various stages by using your RAW editor or the camera’s white balance settings. The term “color temperature” defines the composition of the light at a device’s white point (i.e., the composition of light emitted by an ideal light source at a specific temperature) and is stated in Kelvin units (K).


The higher the color temperature of light, the bluer it is. Conversely, the lower its color temperature, the redder it will be.

Contrary to our normal color perception, the higher the color temperature of a light source, the more blue components it will have. Conversely, the lower a light’s color temperature, the “warmer” it will appear (i.e., it will contain more red tones). Table 3-1 lists some examples of color temperatures for various light sources. You can find a more detailed explanation of how color temperature is calculated in Settings in the Basic Tab.

Table 3-1. Color Temperatures of Various Light Sources

Figure 3-36 shows the curve that is formed within a color space when the white point of an image is shifted. The horizontal position is influenced by shifts in color temperature and the vertical axis shows changes in color tone (hue). There is an example of this type of adjustment (made using Adobe Camera Raw) in Figure 5-35. The “Hue” slider is also present in a number of other Photoshop tools, including the Hue/Saturation command described earlier.

Figure 3-36. Color temperature and tone curves in a color space