Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jesus Lizards Re-Visited

I never get tired of this fascinating species! This image is part of an exercise in my Phototrap workshop to show participants how to set up their flashes and the in-camera white balance in such a way so as to light the scene with mixed color temperatures. Notice how the lighting on the lizard is quite warm, like late-day sunlight. But, the reflected sky on the water's surface is still blue.

Consider the following: Let's say you are shooting a scene at 4pm. The scene is a cornfield, rich in reds and yellows. The blue sky is also included in the composition. If you try to warm the scene to enhance the reds and yellows by raising the color temperature in-camera, this will compromise the blues of the sky. The warmer white balance will render the blues and cyans of the sky subdued. The camera is effectively treating the sky as just another tangible object in the scene that is reflecting the light of the sun. In reality, the sky is more accurately thought of as an independent light source. A shaded area on a sunny day is actually bathed in the rather cool light as it is lit by the sky light and not by the direct rays of the sun.

Understanding how real-life scenes tend to include multiple color temperature light sources allows the photographer to light their studio set-ups in a more realistic manner. This is accomplished by using gels to warm certain flashes in this multi-flash setup, keeping the in-camera white balance relatively cool.

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