Shoot Better Real Estate Photos Using the Kelvin System

Kelvins?! What the heck are those? I just point and shoot in Auto from my white balance. Um… WRONG!!!

If you are charging money for your work with Realtors you better be giving them your best. And I gotta say, your best is not to simply shoot your white balance on Auto.

Stop it. You are better then that. The next time take time to get your colors perfect.

So lets begin with what the heck a Kelvin is and who invented it. I found this information in the article: Hot Pictures: Better White Balance With the Kelvin System at

History of Kelvin

The first definition of Kelvin actually correlates to heat, not light. “But,” you say, “I’m a photographer, not a scientist (kudos if you’re both), why do I need to know about heat?” The temperature of an object (heat) in Kelvin defines the color of the object in Kelvin (color).

Kelvin is a scale of measurement created by a physicist and engineer at the University of Glasgow named William Thomson, Lord Kelvin. First introduced in 1848, Lord Kelvin wrote On an Absolute Thermometric Scale, a paper that called for need of a cold “null” point. At this point in time we have the Fahrenheit scale, which was based on marking a bottle arbitrarily and seeing where a brine solution will freeze and boil, 32°F and 212°F, respectively. We also had the Celsius scale, based on the freezing and boiling points of water: 0°C and 100°C. Neither of these scales, however, had a “null” point, meaning it was possible to have a negative degree of heat, theoretically forever.

Now you see that photography (great photography) is a matter of art mixed with science.

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Here are two different versions of the same photo. One shot and processed using Auto white balance ON and adjusted by the camera to 5100 Kelvins.

Next… a second photo processed identical except Kelvins set at 3200. If you were a Realtor, which one would you prefer to share with your potential buyers??

I think you would agree that the second image looks more natural. The walls are actually grey and the pink bows seem to pop way better in this image.

The next time you get a Realtor client to shoot their new listing… choose to do it right!! Choose to not be lazy and shoot in Auto white balance. Choose to take 2 second to set your Kelvin to 3200 to get a more natural balance look and feel to your images.

Thanks for seeing my images and reading my HDR by Spencer blog.