My friend Nora called today wondering why all the jewelry photos she took in the soft early morning light were so blue.  She knew my favorite time to shoot is early morning and has often complimented to me on the sweet, warm glow I like to capture.  So why were her photos so blue ?

It’s because the camera is responding to the actual color of the light, not the color of her jewelry.  The color of the light is actually quite blue in the shade because the the light source, the sky, is blue and there is no warm sun light to balance the spectrum.  Our brains have learned to auto correct for the varying temperature color of light, but the camera needs to be told the light conditions.

Visible light is a combination of light waves of different color temperature and white is a combination of all colors.  If we point the camera to the right color setting it will make white look like white.

spectrum of light; from ohio state U.
White light is actually many colors.  Take away warm sun, the light becomes blue.

This is why digital cameras have a white balance setting.  For the best color reproduction you need to tell the camera the color of the light so it can balance the exposure for a clean white.  There are usually settings on the camera for sun, shade, and a least one type of indoor light.

I often tweak the color of my photos in post production to bring out warm tones.  When I have early morning sunshine I look to make a golden glow by backlighting foliage.

Here in this early morning light at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles I was able to take advantage of the natural blue color of shade where the blue foliage Agave americana sat atop wall, then let the sunny light of dawn become a golden glow through the Parkinsonia tree.

Before and After Slider

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More about light in chapter four in Workshop Book 3 Think Like a Gardener.  $9.95 in the Store

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Or its own mini-ebook Using the Light on iTunes or Google Play for $1.99

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