Mixing Color in Lighting– An Example

By January 21, 2012Tips/Techniques

Lighting For Video and Film Production

A Study

Mixing Color in LightingIn this picture, it’s a simple, standing interview.  A first glance, it might seem like it’s what we call “news style” interviewing.  This technique is where you catch somebody in their environment, maybe a single light coming from atop the camera.  This technique is used for quick, “man on the street” type interviews where you need it and don’t have time to light it.

But this is actually more the “documentary style” lighting.  And this is a rare case where the subject is standing rather sitting.  It’s preferable to sit because a person tends to shift and sway.  It’s also why it’s best not to put them in a swivel chair if seated.  I chose this location for the lines– I really liked the long throw which added to the depth of field.

For the lighting, I hung a 500 watt incandescent inside a large china ball, using a dimmer, knocked it down to maybe a 250 to 300 effective watts.  Then I used a daylight balanced flo on a c-stand hung out behind him as a back light.  That’s it.  The light on the picture on the right came with the house.  The sunlight coming in from the window is the sunlight.

Now with this plan comes some problems– right away, I’m mixing incandescent and daylight.  So do I pick the incandescent to be yellow or do I pick the sunlight to be blue?  My answer here was that I mixed.  Shooting on a Canon 7D DSLR, I am able to manually dial whatever color balance I would like.  In this case, I was around 4700 kelvins in my balance– somewhere between the 5600K of sunlight and 3200K of tungsten/incandescents.

Good lighting does not have to be complicated.  In fact, often it’s a lot more simple.  And I try to use the environment to suggest the lighting.  In other words, I used a daylight balance on the back/top light because it matches the window.  The light on his shoulders appear to come from the window.  That was intentional.

BTW– I love a large china ball for this style of lighting.  It’s soft and simple.  I handmade a couple fixtures and even made my own dimmer.  Not that difficult.