Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The color of light

A problem for photographers shooting indoors on location is that different light sources have very different colors. Our eyes miraculously see a white sheet of paper as a white sheet of paper, no matter what the lighting. But a camera might see that same sheet as white, blue, yucky orangey-yellow, or even worse green, depending on the light source.

The simplest way to deal with this is often to just blast everything with strobes, which cameras quite like. But sometimes those differences in light can be helpful, if you're aware of them.

A recent cover assignment had two challenges. The first was that I was supposed to somehow make a cover image from a tele- conference. ("A tele- conference? What do I do -- photograph the phone!?!?") The second was that the participants, sitting at a conference table, were lit by very warm (in color) overhead lights, while lighting that would register as blue was pouring in the windows.

In this case, problem #2 provided the solution for problem #1. By taking advantage of the warm light on the people contrasted with the bluish light in the background, a picture was made, one that could run on a cover.

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