So my professor is teaching us about white balance and color grading but he didn't give examples so I didn't really understand in class. I know it's not your job but can you help?
Sure, I’ll do my best but keep in mind I’m using solely what I know and not using any only resources. So if what I say isn’t sufficient, feel free to use online knowledge bases like Youtube and what not.
From my experience, white balance/color temp boils down to how cool or warm an image is. Keep in mind though, Color Temperature is a standalone variable, while White Balance is made up of Color Temperature and Tint. (WB example below)
The color temperature of your images can be altered one of two places. In your camera’s settings so that whatever you take is processed with you pre-defined settings or you can altered the temp on your computer or phone using some type of photo editing tool like VSCO, Photoshop, or Lightroom.
I’m glad you brought up color grading (I’ll refer to Color Grading simple as grading, White Balance as WB and Color Temperature as Temp from here on). Grading is how you achieve a specific or desired look in your images. Have you ever seen any of the Matrix movies?
This is a common technique in film, often used in action movies. Granted, the Matrix series pushed the limits of the effect but it paid off. The technique throws green hues over the shadows and orange/yellow tints over the highlights. The contrast is provides is visually pleasing and helps minimize distractions by the viewing.
As far as my work goes, I grade with the intent of preserving as much of the original image as possible while boosting (increasing) oranges/yellows so highlight sunlight and skin tones. Use this image below for reference next to the default version of it.
Decreased orange luminosity and saturation goes hand in hand with lowered yellow saturation and higher yellow luminosity. Saturation meaning the vividness of the color and luminosity pertaining to the brightness of that color in the image. These are adjustments available to people using Lightroom, just to avoid any confusion. It would take me quite some time to get over each and every adjustment made. If you’d like, here is the RAW file for this image, along with the full size JPEG, unedited and edited if you’d like to try your hand at editing the image for yourself.
Some things to keep in mind. Editing should, as far as I’m concerned with my own work, done in order to preserve the images overall sense and feeling. I edit based on how the shoot felt at the time, based on the setting, and based on the person’s personality.
There’s no formula and art is entirely subjective so by all means craft your own style. I believe the subject should be complimented by their environment, and vice versa. Oh and I grade warm most of the time, hope this helped. Since I get these string of question pretty often, I’ll answer them here as well. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, I shoot exclusively RAW, I editing with Adobe Lightroom, and I create all of my presets/filters manually.