carolee's photo tip of the week: a white-balance challenge

so last week i started to introduce the concept of white balance. this week i'm going to explore it in greater depth. hopefully with today's tip you'll begin to see light in a different sort of way.

have you ever noticed how light can have different color casts? for example, is there a color that comes to mind when you think of fluorescent lights? if not an exact color than what about temperature? do fluorescent lights make a room cooler or warmer? maybe you've never noticed this but if you're interested in becoming a better photographer it's about time that you begin to pay attention to the various temperatures of light. even though, when shooting in raw, almost everything is manipulatable post-capture, i still firmly believe that you'll always get the best results if you know everything you can about controlling every single element possible from the get-go. my philosophy? to make the necessary adjustments in-camera first.

so what's the challenge? the title of this post will lead you believe that i want you to do something to grasp this concept. that is true. if you're up for it, go ahead and pick an object in one particular light setting. and then you're going to photograph it in each of the various white-balance preset modes. in the end you'll have the same photograph of the same object with different color-casts. this is an important exercise because it will help you to see what each preset was designed to do. if you know this basic concept already, you can still take the challenge for fun.

the idea here is that our eyes are excellent at doing what they can to balance out the color of what we see. the goal is to have a very neutral color palate. one where blacks are black and whites are white and every color in-between are true to their hue. if you're shooting with the wrong white-balance or if you don't understand this concept then it's possible for you to capture the color black with a strong blue hue (or some other color) to it.

how does this whole concept of white balance apply to film photography? well, if you're talking black and white film it obviously doesn't apply at all. unless, of course, you're using various filters that enhance specific color waves. but we won't get into that. so then what about color film? well, color film is its own magical world of light and color temperatures. but understanding how the lighting you're using plays into what your shooting is still extreemly important when you're shooting with color film. there are even various filters which can be used to compensate for specific color temperatures when shooting film (example: a magenta filter)... but i won't go too much into that right now either.

so get out there and start shooting. remember to switch up your wb modes while photographing the same object. you should get a series of photos that look like this:

next week i'll explain more about each individual mode and what you should know about it. if you have any questions while you're photographing this week, feel free to leave a comment here or to send me a message!