Wick Communications

Orange you glad…

In Photography on 25 Jun 2010 at 10:20 am

Are your photographs from inside the local gym tinted Halloween orange?

It’s not the photographer’s fault; blame those big dim lights up there near the gym roof.

For years we at the Half Moon Bay Review have struggled with photos like the one you see above. It seemed there was nothing we could do to get good photos in the paper from the high school gym.

Of course, Review photographer Lars Howlett figured it out. The trick, he says, is an inexpensive gel filter for the flash. Here’s Lars:

Photographers have played the white balance game on basketball courts for years, often with the big orange colorcast winning out. When it comes to color temperature, most photographers count on auto settings to get by and score points with other talents in timing or composition…

In the gym I set a custom white balance and use an orange filter over my flash to mirror the warm tone of the lights. Later, in Photoshop, I can further adjust the color balance, often reducing the saturation to help in toning down the orange. A camera’s flash is set to approximate the light of midday sun and unfiltered use of it in the gym will create an irreconcilable mix. Such is the case in the photo above.

The blue cast on the graduates (see accompanying photo and compare it to the photo at the top of the post) resulted from the flash of a spectator’s camera. It’s better to forgo the flash or tape an orange piece of cellophane over the top and adjust white balance settings in camera and on the computer for the best chance of winning out in the end.

There is a lot of talk about the orange-light phenomenon on the Web, too. Here’s a more in depth overview. It even tells you how you can make your own “gels.”



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