We know that light has a temperature, we know about white balance. We obsess over it. We ask others to be sure our white balance is correct. But what are we basing our answers off of? Yes, I realize there is a system, there are rules. Yes, they should be learned and understood. I want you to know and understand white balance, but I also want you to understand true light temperature. What I mean is, what the temperature of that particular light you shot in on that morning, or that evening, actually was. That light that you saw with your own two eyes. You saw what it looked like and felt the mood that it created. Sometimes, as the sun is setting, the light is extra warm; everything is wrapped in orange and yellow tones. Other times, the light is naturally cooler. Perhaps after the sun has set, or when the sun hasn’t been out from behind the clouds at all. Just like it’s important to understand white balance, it’s important to understand the natural temperature of light, and that it’s ok to keep those tones that you saw when you took the photograph.
Look for that cool light, often found in early mornings and late evenings, as the sun rises and sets – or maybe, just before the sun rises, just after it sets. As it always is with this project, this is about closely observing light and noticing how warm or cool it is and then staying true to that through post processing. Be mindful of the mood and the tones achieved when the light looks and feels cool. Realize that you don’t need to depend on Photoshop to get the look and mood your after. Light sets the mood and tone in our images, if we let it. If we are observant enough to notice the changes that occur naturally and if we develop the skills to capture our surroundings the way we see them in our head, light is the only tool we need.
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The string of lights were warm, but the late evening light coming in through the window was cool and dark. This image is as close to what this scene actually looked like, as photographically possible.
There was very little light left, and what was there was that very cool, dark light, just before the dark swallows up what’s left. Dark enough for the street lamps to be on, but just bright enough to still see those cool tones and the colors in my subject and in the surroundings.
This is a good example of some cool light found at dusk. Light isn’t always “technically correct”, as far as what we are taught to look for when setting or correcting white balance. After the sun sets, the light cools down, and the tones are made up of blues and purples. It even cools down skin tones – it cools down everything it touches. Go out and watch, and you’ll see.
The sun was just beginning to make its way through the tops of the trees, and there was a bit of cloud cover in the sky that morning. The cool light came through the frosted window, and reflected off the blue in the bottom of the tub – the combination resulted in an even stronger blue/cool hue in the image.