What Color "Temperature" Means in Photography

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[Editor's note: This monster post taught me SO much I didn't understand about photography in terms I can understand. Sandra runs through what the camera does and doesn't do when recording light, and gives examples of the same photo with different color temperatures. -- Julie]

To begin, consider for a moment the terms red hot and white hot. While everyone associates red with being a warm (or hot) color, and in color theory it is, in reality something described as white hot is actually hotter (or higher) in color temperature on the Kelvin scale and will cast a bluish tint. To illustrate this point, picture a flame in your mind---yes, the hot part is orange to red, but the excruciatingly hot part is always bluish in color. This is the way the Kelvin scale works: the hotter or higher the color temperature, the more of a bluish tint it will produce; the lesser or cooler the color temperature, the more of a warm or reddish tint it will produce.

Image courtesy A Bloggable Life

Read more from Creative Photography Series: Color & Light, Part II (Understanding Color Temperature, Plus Tips & Tricks For Adjusting White Balance) at A Bloggable Life