Category Archives: 18 The colour of light

Exercise – Judging colour temperature 2

The brief:

Take a similar situation to the previous exercise and shoot the same three kinds of picture, but for each one vary the camera’s white balance settings: take one at the daylight/sunlight setting, a second at the shade setting, and a third at Auto.

Fig 01 - In sun - daylight setting

Fig 01 – In sun – daylight setting
f2.8, 1/800, 50mm, ISO 100

As in the previous exercise, the daylight settings in the sun were as expected and all colours were rendered true. This is definitely my first choice.

Fig 02 - In sun - shade setting

Fig 02 – In sun – shade setting
f2.8, 1/800, 50mm, ISO 100

The shade white balance used in direct sunlight renders the subject too orange, as well the clothing. The fir trees in the background are also a sickly warm green colour.

Fig 03 - In sun - auto setting

Fig 03 – In sun – auto setting
f2.8, 1/800, 50mm, ISO 100

Auto white balance is OK, but it also has a bit too much orange overtones to my liking. This would be my second choice.

Side by side comparisons can be seen below.

In sun white balance settings - from left to right: daylight, shade, auto

In sun white balance settings – from left to right: daylight, shade, auto

Fig 04 - In shade - daylight setting

Fig 04 – In shade – daylight setting
f2.8, 1/320, 50mm, ISO 200

As expected, a daylight white balance setting used in the shade renders the subject with an overall bluer tone, with a pink complexion. The moss on the tree in the background is rendered a very dark green.

Fig 05 - In shade - shade setting

Fig 05 – In shade – shade setting
f2.8, 1/320, 50mm, ISO 200

The shade white balance has rendered all the colours correctly. The subject has a natural glow to his face and the moss is the actual colour that I remember.

Fig 06 - In shade - auto setting

Fig 06 – In shade – auto setting
f2.8, 1/320, 50mm, ISO 200

The auto white balance setting is not bad, but it has rendered the image with a very slight overall blue tone which is mostly noticeable in the cap which now has a slight magenta tint and the jacket is a tad bluer than it should be.

A side by side comparison can be seen below.

In shade white balance settings: from left to right: auto, shade, daylight

In shade white balance settings: from left to right: auto, shade, daylight

 

Fig 07 - Sun close to horizon - daylight setting

Fig 07 – Sun close to horizon – daylight setting
f3.5, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 200

Back down at the beach again and with the white balance set to daylight in fig 07, it is clear that while the overpowering light of the setting sun has rendered quite the colour change on my husband’s teal jacket. The background colours are as I remember them and the cement pathway in the background is also the correct grey tone.

Fig 08 - Sun close to horizon - shade setting

Fig 08 – Sun close to horizon – shade setting
f3.5, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 200

The shade white balance setting is far too orange. Even the trees in the background have turned orange. I definitely do not like this.

Fig 09 - Sun close to horizon - auto setting

Fig 09 – Sun close to horizon – auto setting
f3.5, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 200

I rather like the auto white balance setting. The sunset glow on the face has been minimized a bit, the green of the trees has been brought out a little more but the background pathway is a little blue, but it can work for me.

Sun close to horizon white balance settings: from left to right: daylight, shade, auto

Sun close to horizon white balance settings: from left to right: daylight, shade, auto

Overall I did not have too many surprises when shooting in the sun or shade. I think the biggest surprise for me was shooting at sunset and discovering how the sun changes the hues of clothing, turning a teal colour into something resembling mud. I guess that is called colour-mixing.

Exercise – Judging colour temperature 1

The brief:

For this exercise you will need a subject that you can move around and which does not have a strong colour. A friend’s face would do well. The other thing that you will need is less reliable – very clear weather. Take three photographs, one in full sunlight during the middle of the day (that is mid morning to mid afternoon), one in shade during the middle of the day, and one in sunlight when the sun is close to the horizon. Make sure that the camera’s White balance is set to ‘daylight’.

The temperature of the sunlight varies throughout the day. Between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm it has a temperature of approximately 5500 kelvin. The harshest light occurs around noon where the overhead light casts hard shadows and creates raccoon-like shadows under people’s eyes. Evening light occurs when the sun loses its power and casts long shadows. Evening light is usually stronger than morning light.

It was a beautiful winter’s day, free from rain, with big, billowing clouds and blue sky, so for this exercise, I cajoled my husband into modelling for me.

Fig 01 - In sun - daylight setting

Fig 01 – In sun – daylight setting
f2.8, 1/800, 50mm, ISO 100

The sun was rather bright for the first image so I told my husband to look off to the side so as not to squint at the camera. This white balance setting renders all the colours true. With the sun shining on his face, my husband has a healthy glow on his face.

Fig 02 - In shade - daylight setting

Fig 02 – In shade – daylight setting
f2.8, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 100

With a daylight white balance taken in the shade, all colours are rendered with a blueish tint. The image appears visually colder. My husband’s brown camo cap now has a magenta tint to it, while his teal coloured jacket is now blue. His complexion is also more pink.

Fig 03 - In sun close to the horizon - daylight setting

Fig 03 – In sun close to the horizon – daylight setting
f3.5, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 200

In order to get the image where the sun is close to the horizon, we headed down to the beach and waited for the sunset. The sun had just touched the horizon when I took this photo. The warm glow of the sun renders a lovely light on the face, at the same time warming the colours of the clothing, intensifying the brown colour of the cap and turning the jacket into a brown colour.

The side by side comparison can be seen in the collage below. I cropped the last image to fit into a portrait mode.

Fig 04 - Daylight settings taken in full sun, shade and with the sun close to the horizon

Fig 04 – Daylight settings taken in full sun, shade and with the sun close to the horizon

The sunlight image was as I expected it to be. I was quite surprised by the cooler tones rendered in the shade as they did not seem that much cooler when I positioned my husband in the shade. I was expecting the overall tone to be visually cooler but not by so much. The warm glow on the face during the sunset is the same as I remember it, but what did surprise me was the tonal change in the clothing. Mind you I was paying more attention to the face than the clothing.

Reference List

Prakel, David, 2007. Basics Photography 02 – Lighting. Ava Publishing, London.