Black Body Radiation And White Balance: Space Physics in Your Camera

When is the last time you really thought about what is going on inside of your digital camera when you are taking a picture? I’m not talking about the exposure or direct photographic processes but beyond that, into the physics and other scientific processes? If you are like me, that answer is probably never, if ever.

Interestingly Physics Major Nic Roberts produced this great little video that takes a look at some of the physics that are going on within your camera, specifically relating to Blackbody Radiation and White Balance. We found this interesting because, for many photographers, white balance is just a setting on their camera – one that many shooting in RAW doesn’t even take the time to set thanks to being able to change it later in post. But this look behind the curtain, at what is actually going on in our cameras and in the world to make this whole thing work was quite interesting.

It was interesting to see the video and have some of the physics and science behind the white balance of our cameras tied into an easy to digest video. It is not going to make you a better photographer, nor is it going to give you some insight on choosing a better white balance for your scene (unless you didn’t know what white balance was already), but we thought it was still interesting to see the inner workings of our cameras.

Alright, you probably do want better white balance, don’t you? Well, if you want to create images with a more film-like look then try to lock your camera to either to Daylight or Tungsten white balance settings. Film came in only these two white balance options: no shade, no underwater, no sunset, etc. All of that is an invention of digital more or less.

If you are interested in more of these videos from Nic, you can find him over on his Youtube channel, here.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.