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August 25, 2011 / arthill

The color of light


Yesterday we went to a children’s museum with our grandsons.  One of the areas of the museum has a whole bunch of exhibits about light.  One of them featured colored blocks in a booth with a constantly changing light source. It was fascinating to see a yellow block change to orange and then to white.  I decided to try to capture the essence of this experiment with my camera.   When I took a look at the pictures on my computer I saw that the Auto White Balance was “fooled” much of the time.  I opened up the RAW file in each case and use the eyedropper tool to set the white balance by clicking on the desk surface.

Here’s what I would call a “normal” view of the blocks

IMG_2999

In this shot the Auto White Balance was really off

IMG_2993

By adjusting the white balance I got this – which is what my eye saw

IMG_2993

Here’s another from the camera

IMG_2994

And the WB adjusted version

 

IMG_2994

So here are the same blocks in three different lights

 

IMG_2999IMG_2993IMG_2994

Note the shift in red to dark red and then orange.  And the blue to turquoise and back to blue.

Here are three more unadjusted shots that have picked up a blue cast

IMG_2991IMG_2993IMG_2995

Correcting the white balance though gives very different results

 

IMG_2991IMG_2993IMG_2995

So here are all the variations that we saw (these have been adjusted to correct white balance)

IMG_2991IMG_2992IMG_2993IMG_2994IMG_2995IMG_2998

IMG_2999

Two points to take away from this:

  1. Keep in mind the color of your light source
  2. Shoot RAW and check the white balance to see if you can get a better result.
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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Donna McCommon / Aug 25 2011 8:51 am

    An excellent example of white balance. Thanks, Art.

  2. Maryann Tia Engel Goldman / Aug 25 2011 9:51 am

    I really like how you’ve showed us just how much difference the color of the light we’re shooting under can make in our shots. Cold or warm light can really make a big difference.

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