White Balance Trick: Tungsten and Natural Light

Thursday I had a comercial shoot during the day at the studio and needed to be somewhere downtown in the evening so I decided I’d just hang out at the studio while one of my partners shot. Bob Warren was shooting traveling model Hollis Ireland that evening and invited me to come along. He planned to go to a number of places around the studio and shoot just using natural light. Hollis is super hot redhead so it didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to come along.

The sun was fast dropping and the Texas wild fires where doing interesting things to the golden hour light. When we got to our last location the sun was almost down. We were shooting under an overpass, using the tungsten lights as our light source. I asked Bob what he was doing for white balance and he said he was using tungsten, but that the natural light would have an interesting blue cast. Ok, whatever. I switched over.

Then I was blown away by what happen.

Where the overhead lights hit the model she was a warm gold color like you’d expect from tungsten – though I’m not sure why changing my WB didn’t make that white. But where the natural light hit anything, it turned a rich blue color.

As the sun went down, the blue got darker as you’d expect. (The less exposed/more underexposed something is, the darker the color.)

This is my favorite image from the shoot and shows the dramatic difference in color temperatures. There was no color work in post production at all.

The only negative to these images was my ISO was cranked up to 1000 and the images where still underexposed giving me a lot of noise. I used Lightroom’s noise correction to fix some of it, but now I feel the skin is too smooth.

Next time you are out shooting at sun down, look for some tungsten light and try this out for yourself.

PS: Don’t worry Shawna and I are planning our return to podcasting, and there will be an expansion of what we’re doing here at P&M to build up the community.

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