UNDERSTANDING LIGHT: PART 2

Photo by Johny vino on Unsplash

With our cameras today, very little attention is focused on lighting. Our cameras have a built-in “white-balance” system in it so that the colors come out right, even if the lighting is awful. So, why would I do this blog with the focus on different colors that light produces? Because you may run into situations, where the camera you own, even though it is supposed to balance everything to white, doesn’t do it.

In the photo above, I picked that because of the 2 different types of lighting in this photo. Let’s go over it, and I’ll explain more of the types of lighting:

The photo above is showing one of the most beautiful chapels in the world. The incandescent lighting is doing it’s job by putting out it’s natural color, which is kind of an orange, or gold color light. And the daylight coming through the stained glass windows is giving a beautiful rendition of the colors used in that stained glass. In fact, the windows in this photo, are the most accurate color.

This photo was probably done with a camera that had the automatic white balance. But, how is it supposed to fix all that? If it made the chapel area in the correct color, the stained glass windows would not be a vert pretty color. It is hard for any camera to adjust the white balance for any multiple colors of lighting.

There is only one thing in the world that can fix all the different types of lighting, and that is the human eye.

The one device that can give you the best color correction, to make things look normal, is the human eye.

Last winter, I was taking a walk in the park, and it was foggy. And this is the photo I took in the fog:

Notice the color of the light coming from the street lights. That is why this photo has the warm orange glow.

Now, the question is with some photos, including the one above, is: does this photo look great with this color cast, or would it look better with it color corrected in photoshop or Lightroom?

This photo, taken in the same park as the previous photo, had the warm glow to it, but was fixed in Lightroom. Which one do you like better?

UNDERSTANDING THE “KELVIN” RATING SYSTEM:

The Kelvin color temperature scale is used to describe the way various light temperatures appear visually. It is measured in degrees on a Kelvin scale (K) and typically ranges from 2700 – 5000 degrees Kelvin.

Virtually all light bulbs or lighting fixtures that come with bulbs included will reference on the package which Kelvin Color temperature is associated with the item you are purchasing. Having a complete understanding of what these temperature choices mean and how they will look in your home will help you to make the best lighting choices.  

Almost all light globes, or any light source will show on the package what the Kelvin rating is for the light produced. Take a look next time you buy a light globe.

I am one that likes my light in my house to be the most normal color possible. When I go buy a light globe then, they will either show on the package that it is a daylight bulb, or they may call it “cool white”. Either one will work, and won’t give you the warm color to your home. There are people who think that the “warm white” is better on your eyes. I don’t know how white can be warm. I still want my art work, my photos that hang on the wall to have the proper color in the room so they look right.

THE KELVIN SCALE:

This is a great scale that tells you exactly what color light globes are in their rating as compared to daylight. Daylight is the perfect light, and it produces the most perfect natural color. We know, however, that there is a thing called the “Golden Hour” which is the 1 hour after sunrise, and the one hour before sunset, and the daylight color is no longer accurate. But, it sure gives a nice warm color to everything lit up by the Golden hour.

Let’s look at the Kelvin rating of our light sources:
  • Daylight is “white light”, and it is what the light balance in your camera is calibrated to. So, this is the most perfect light we use in photography
  • Standard Warm White light bulbs are rated at 3200K. Looking at the Kelvin Scale above, you can see that it is definitely a warm yellow color.
  • Cool White light bulbs are not perfectly rated like daylight, but close. They are rated at 4500K to 5000k. So, you can see they are very close to the color of daylight (and that is the light I like to put in my home).
  • Fluorescent light is rated at: Warm white fluorescent bulbs range from 3000k to 3500k. Cool white range from 4100k to 4200k. Most people buy the Cool White bulbs. They look the most correct to our eyes, but, the cameras, and especially film, it brings out some kind of weird green color. I guess green is closer to daylight than the warm white.
  • Street lights: The International Dark Sky Association (I didn’t know there was such a group), recommends that street lights be rated at 2200K. Now you can see why my fog pictures, untouched, are so warm and yellow. They are not even on the Kelvin Scale listed above.
  • Flash on cameras, and cell phones: 5000K to 6500K. Nice for perfect flash photos.

CONCLUSION:

I hope that the next time you look at a light globe, you can see the actual color of the bulb. And then realize that it is not a color at all like daylight. It doesn’t matter what light bulb you choose, notice that it has a certain color cast and it can affect your overall photo.

Without vision, the photographer perishes

David duChemin

Technology is a wonderful thing. I am so grateful that I use WORDPRESS for my web hosting, and they are constantly finding ways to make my blog more professional. And over the next few weeks, you may see some more changes to the appearance and function of my website. Hope you enjoy it.

This article today was written by: Lanny Cottrell – 123photogo

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Published by 123photogo

I have been a photographer for many years. Worked in retail selling cameras and accessories for over 20 years. Taught many photo classes, and have even been a judge in several county fairs. Now, I want to share photo instructions and entertainment with all other photographers around the world.

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