It’s October 1st and it’s getting to be that time of year again. In some areas it’s already happened. This is the time of the year when the temperature starts to cool off and the leaves on the trees start to change to brilliant colors of yellow, orange, and red! If you are interested in getting out and doing some fall foliage photography around the Washington DC area, keep reading and I’ll help you with deciding when is the right time to go so you’ll capture the leaves at their peak color.
It’s never too early to start on your Halloween decorations! Taking a slight departure from my normal posting of photography stuff to put up a tutorial on how to make your own custom carved pumpkins.
Up to now we’ve talked about how to think about color temperature of a light source and how gels change their color temperature. And we’ve done some staged tests to make sure our theory on “Red, White, and Blue” works like it should – which it has. But what about doing on some real photos outside, can we use this to change how the photo looks to make some interesting effects? We’ll, that’s what we are going to do now!
From the last article we had the problem of two light sources in a scene that had different color temperatures:
We saw before that if we changed the camera white balance to either match the light bulb or the flash we’d have a color cast in the image. This is because the two light sources are at different positions on the chart, they aren’t producing the same color temperature light.
White balance is entirely controlled by our camera. We can set our camera to a certain white balance (color temperature) and that causes our camera to “see” that color temperature as white. If we set our camera’s white balance to 2500K then a light source whose color temperature is 2500K will be seen by our camera as white. If on the other hand we set our camera’s white balance to 7000K, then any light source whose color temperature is 7000K will be seen by our camera as white. The placement of our camera on the color temperature chart is entirely determined by what we set the white balance to, and it’s completely under our control.
One area that I’ve seen photographers have a difficult time in grasping is using gels with their flash, or more generally color temperature and what it really means. There are lots of really good websites out there that discuss the color temperature of light, what it means in relation to your white balance, and using gels, see for example Cambridge in Colour or The Strobist. What I’ve seen lacking is a good simple explanation of the color temperature of a light source and how gels and white balance interact with the color temperature. Hopefully this series of articles will help you to understand more easily how they interact and make it a lot simpler for you in deciding which gel to use for the effect you want. By the end of the series you’ll know that gelling your flash is as easy as remembering, Red, White, and Blue.