Colour technique

Take a room lit by light bulbs. You have probably noticed that these often turn out slightly orange/yellow in photos taken with the automatic white balance setting (AWB).

But this can be solved: you can set your white balance to Tungsten or Incandescent (the “lightbulb” symbol). Then you get neutral colour (i.e. white looks white, not yellow):

But what if want this, and I also want to use flash?

Then I would put a CTO (“Colour Temperature Orange”) gel onto my flash, and it would look the same as the rest of the light. So the picture above would not change at all in terms of colour.

But when shooting events, I like a different look. I like the background to be warm, while the close-by subject is a neutral white. So I do in fact like a colour difference.

To achieve that, I do the following:

  1. I use my flash, without a gel.
  2. I put my camera’s White Balance setting to “Flash”.

Now, the background is warm (it is yellow with respect to flash light, and it shows as yellow), while the foreground subject is neutral. Like this:

Now that is my personal taste – yours may validly differ. The important thing is that you know how to create colour differences, or to minimize them.


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