Judging Colour Temperature 1

In order to start to judge colour temperature of various scenes I needed a willing volunteer. This turned out to be a neutrally coloured zebra. A series of photographs were to be taken under specific circumstances with the camera’s white balance set to ‘daylight’ to see the difference both time of day and direction of the sun makes to the way the image looks. The specific circumstances were that the first photograph was to be taken at midday in direct sunlight. The second to be take at midday in shadow and the third to be take with the sun close to the horizon. This could have been either towards the beginning or the end of the day. In this case it was the end of the day with the sun moving fast towards the horizon.

I needed to take these photographs and then look at the colour temperature differences between them. The danger for photographers in these different circumstances is that our eyes are so adaptable to colour change that we don’t notice. However, what this exercise and subsequent exercises set out to do, is show that there is a wide difference in colours produced by the time and place the photos are taken in.

colourtemp1 1

Midday, sunlight directly from the top

colourtemp1 2

Midday, in shade, sunlight from front

colourtemp1 3

545pm, light falling directly on to zebra from the front

As stated in the notes, the colour differences are very pronounced. At midday in the direct sunlight there is almost no discernible ‘colour’. This is because the midday sun is colourless to our eyes. Our eyes are so used to it that it almost becomes our default standard to judge other colours by. This means we don’t tend to notice it and is also the reason many people take photos at midday, because it’s when things look most natural. You coould argue that the first photograph looks the most ‘normal’.
As a photographer this is bound to cause me problems if I don’t pay attention to it. The second photo in the series, taken in the shade at midday, shows a very cool, blue colour. The third image shows, by contrast, a much warmer orange coloured zebra.
With the colour balance set to daylight I would have been in for a potentially nasty shock if had taken this series without being aware of what the result might be. In RAW format I would be able to change these colours. However, taken in JPEG format I would be stuck with these colours.

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One thought on “Judging Colour Temperature 1

  1. Pingback: #4 Judging Colour Temperature 2 | BA Blog

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