Exploring Light, Discovering Style: A Lighting Tutorial
Part 8, Lesson 6: Considering Color
By Bruce Dorn | March 14, 2011
Concept: Carefully consider your color palette when mixing light sources.
Tools: Daylight Fluorescent+Softbox+Natural Reflector
Action: This scenario was a perfect opportunity to work with one of my favorite new lighting instruments, the Westcott Spiderlite TD5 in a matching Westcott 36" x 48" softbox. Although the Spiderlite may be fitted with Edison-based AC-powered strobes or 3200K tungsten globes, I chose the third option and installed a full set of Westcott's daylight-balanced fluorescent lamps.
These units are approximately 5500K and are therefore somewhat warmer-feeling than the skylight which was spilling in through the well-shaded windows.
After a few moments of head-scratching and mustache-twirling, I decided on my final color palette. This is an important point for beginners and advanced practitioners alike; it is up to the photographer to understand and control the relationships between the color temperatures of the principle light sources and the color balance setting chosen for the camera.
In this case, I wanted the skylight to stay slightly cool or bluish, so I set the camera's color temperature to 5000K. I then elected to warm up the 5500K light from the Spiderlite to emulate the cozy feel of the tungsten-lit interior.
To accomplish this, I covered the Softbox's front diffuser with a large sheet of Â½ CTO gelatin filter. This gel warms any light source by about 1000 degrees Kelvin and makes the light from these 5500K fluorescent lights behave as if they were an invitingly-warm 4500K.
After carefully placing the softbox slightly beyond the model, attentive assistant Paul tucked himself behind a column where he handheld a prototype Westcott "Natural Reflector" pop-open muslin for just a gentle touch of fill.
Asking Kelly to simply "find the light" gave her face a beautiful short-light illumination and this image is the striking result.
Remember this well; when the camera's Kelvin setting is numerically lower than the Kelvin temperature of a light source, the image will be cooler. When it's higher, the image will be warmer...
Canon 1DS Mark II - F3.2 @ 1/30 ISO 400
Canon 70-200 mm F2.8 IS Zoom
Westcott Spiderlite TD5 with Five Daylight-Balanced Fluorescent Globes
Westcott 36" x 48" Softbox
Bruce Dorn Select Muslin Reflector
Lee 1/4 CTO Gel
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