Seeing the Light - Part Two
~ Part 2: The Colors of Light ~
Sep 12, 2013
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” George Eastman
Seeing a rainbow is always a treat – and reminds us that light consists of all those colors, though we're usually blind to them. Generally, we notice light only in relationship to doing our everyday tasks – whether we have enough light or not.
To understand the colors of light, we note that all color pictures have some degree of blue, red and green in them. How much of each will depend upon the color temperature of the light – which largely depends upon the sun (we'll talk about artifical light later).
7,000 to 11,000 is considered cool (blue), and 2,000 to 4,000 is considered warm (red). Between 4,000 and 7,000 is daylight – a combination of red, blue, and green.
Cool light is what we experience on cloudy, foggy days, and in open shade on sunny days.
It's when we shoot in artificial light that we begin to notice some challenges, especially when there are mixed lighting sources such as natural, incandescent, and even perhaps fluorescent. These are the occasions when photographers turn to light meters, which are used to test the color reflected from the subject. Another option is the use of a bright white card which the photographer will hold in front of the lens each time he changes the lighting, so he may know where to set the WB.
Many photographers choose to shoot in RAW or ARW – the unedited modes which gives them as much detail about the image as possible. Thus, they have more contol over the final image in post processing, and can easily "tweak" the WB to suit their vision.
Don't be afraid to experiment. Shoot different lighting scenes with different WB settings so that you can own the light you capture.
Go ahead and put yourself in the light; explore the world in all its colors!
Maureen Spagnolo is a photographer, living in Washington, DC. She writes on a variety of social issues in addition to her photography articles.
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