White balance and mixed lighting

Your digital camera can only adjust white balance for one predominant color of light at any given time.  In the image below I set the white balance for Daylight to properly expose the white snow as white.  As a result the dark shadows came out with a predictable blue tint.  White Balance is your cameras way of “correcting” for the varying temperature in the light spectrum.  Daylight is bright white, so little or no compensation is necessary.  As it get cloudy outside (hope to god it never gets cloudy inside…yick!) the light picks up a blue cast from filtering through the clouds.  If not compensated for with white balance then everything would have a slight blue cast to it.  Going one step further, in the shade on a sunny day the light has an even greater blue cast (as seen below).  Since the camera was set specifically to “Daylight” it was NOT compensating for the blue light in the shadows so, the sun light snow is white and the shadowy snow has a decided blue tint.  If I were to have set the white balance to “Shade” then the camera would have added orange to off-set the blue and the snow in the shadows would have appeared white BUT the snow in the sun would have had the same orange added and would have appeared slightly orange.  The decision comes down to which is more important to you?  The subject in the sun or the shade?

Clarification: I modified the image in my painting program, but only for texture, I did not modify the color.

Mixed light photograph
Sun or Shade White Balance...YOU MAKE THE CALL!

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