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Move Your Subject

If you cannot eliminate any conflicting color temperatures, the next thing for you to consider is moving your subject. Try to move her into a part of the scene that reduces the mixed light. At minimum, ensure her face is illuminated by only one type of light.

Take a look at a practical example: You’ve been hired to photograph a model in a record store as a PR shot for the store. As you can see in Figure 4.1, very orange-yellow, overhead tungsten lights illuminate the entire store. A large window, however, allows in daylight at the front of the store. This creates undesirable mixed light on the subject when posing her in most areas of the room. You can’t turn off the overhead tungsten lights because you’re shooting during the store’s operating hours, and you can’t eliminate window light because there are no curtains. You must find another solution.

Figure 4.1

wrong.jpgFigure 4.1. The subject is half lit by tungsten light, half lit by daylight through a window. This creates an unflattering mixed light on her face. The left side of the face is orange in tone, while the right side of the face is a cooler blue shade.

By moving the subject you can ensure that there is one predominant light source on the face. You move the model to the front of the store and turn her toward the window, lighting her entire face with daylight and using only a bit of tungsten light to illuminate the background. Finally, you switch your camera’s white balance to Daylight to ensure accurate skin tones (Figure 4.2). Yes, the background stays orange in tone, but the subject is lit in flattering light.

Figure 4.2

tic.jpgFigure 4.2. By moving the subject toward the window, you reduce the effect of the tungsten light on the face. While the background is still tungsten lit, the face is completely lit by daylight.

What if you don’t want the subject near the front of the store or you can’t move her into daylight for some reason? Your next option is to move her as far from the daylight as possible. Moving her toward the back of the store reduces the daylight-balanced light on her face and switches the predominant light source to the overhead tungsten. Change your white balance to tungsten (using white-balance presets, a gray card, or an ExpoDisc as discussed in Chapter 3), and you have a correctly white-balanced image. The quality of light may not yet be ideal, but the color in the image is much improved (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3

tic.jpgFigure 4.3. If you move the subject away from the window, the tungsten light in the scene becomes dominant.

After you have moved your subject so there is only one dominant light source on the face or body, you can reduce the appearance of the mixed light source in the background by changing your frame. Instead of including the window in the background or including parts of the scene illuminated by window light (as in Figure 4.4), for example, try a camera angle that shows predominantly tungsten-balanced background elements.

Figure 4.4

wrong.jpgFigure 4.4. Your framing can help to eliminate conflicting light sources and white balances. Notice the conflicting light sources here; the light coming through the window is a different white balance than the light illuminating the subject’s face.

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