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August 2014 - Steven Joseph Photography

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Dear Churches: Please Give Us Pretty Light – Daylight 5600 Kelvin To Be Precise

August 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

While most people don’t notice the color of light around them, everyone notices when someone looks green or orange or blue in a photograph. Cameras *really* notice the color of light and the actual colors present when a photograph is taken show up loud and clear in photos. And it is the job of photographers to fix that problem before it happens, or after in post-production.

This is called fixing White Balance.

When a venue has consistent light color, it is very easy for a photographer to match that color (either before or after s/he begins shooting) for natural looking skin tones.

But when a venue has a clash of colors coming from different sources (tungsten light bulbs [orange]; compact fluorescent bulbs [green]; camera flashes [blue]; and window daylight [also blue]) skin colors in photos end up looking very strange and unnatural.

As the USA has moved away from tungsten light bulbs, many churches (and hotels and other grand public spaces) have a mix of light bulbs – many with conflicting color temperatures – that are just plain ugly in photographs, and very difficult for photographers to correct to make look normal.

Back in the old days, everybody used incandescent old skool light bulbs, which have a color temperature of about 3200 Kelvin (3200K). All photographers know how to correct for that deep orange-ish color when it is consistent in every light bulb. Film photographers simply choose “Tungsten Film” while digital photographers dial their White Balance to the “light bulb” icon, or we dial in about 3200 Kelvin.

But now that incandescent light bulbs are illegal to sell in the USA, everybody has been switching to the alternatives, like compact fluorescent (CFL), LED and fluorescent, and – photographically speaking – it’s a mess.

Dear Churches (and hotels etc): if you want the photos of your guests to have pleasing skin tones, PLEASE MAKE ALL OF YOUR LIGHT BULBS approximately THE SAME KELVIN TEMPERATURE, preferably DAYLIGHT ± 5000 – 5600 Kelvin. All light bulbs can be purchased in the Daylight Kelvin temperature range. You just have to look for it or ask for it.

This needn’t cost Churches or other venues any extra money at all, as you can simply REPLACE all bulbs as they burn out with Daylight Balanced 5200 Kelvin replacements. Have a closet full of mixed color bulbs? Why not sell them on eBay, and purchase all new Daylight Balanced replacement bulbs moving forward.

That way your guests will look simply lovely in everybody’s photographs. And you will make photographers – and Brides – as happy as a bright sunny day.

Thank you.