Candlelight–Single light source and white balance

White balance and single light source in photography using a Nikon“Candlelight” is a good image to discuss several things to consider when designing a photograph. First, the use of a single light source. In a studio setting, using a single light and eliminating daylight gives you a special effect that is often used for high contrast black and white images as well as color. One side of the body or face will be lit up, and the other part fade into the shadows. This works only for certain images, but consider it for creating a feeling of mystery. In “Candlelight,” the single light source is, of course, a candle- and herein lies the need to understand the concept of white balance. Each light source has its own color temperature measured in Kelvins and the camera or film will record the correct colors only if it is set to the correct temp., or the correct film is used. Most film is set for daylight–(K5200) and will not look correct under fluorescent light unless used with a flash which is also set to about the same temp. as daylight. With a digital camera, it may auto adjust, or you can set it to the light source by setting the white balance in the menu mode under “white balance.” We are used to seeing candlelight as yellow because of this temperature shift. For long exposures, use a tripod. You can also use a high ASA setting, but that will reduce the sharpness of the image. My advice, use a tripod, set the aperture, then shoot an image using your camera meter. By using the exposure compensation dial and adjusting your meter, you can rapidly find the perfect exposure by shooting a series of images using different exposure compensation settings. Just don’t forget to reset the exposure compensation to zero before your next photo session.

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P. Miller

Visit  www.humanlandscapes.com to see my art book, “Humanlandscapes-Interpreting the Human Form.”