Gauntlet: Be Aware of Cool Shade


By Gary Fong
Figure 1 - BeforeFigure 2 - After
To the eye, white is white. To the camera, white is yellow under tungsten, green under florescent light, and blue under in open shade with camera settings on daylight.
Most people don’t “see” the shades of white in real life, but notice it when viewing a print or computer screen. To the viewer’s eye and brain, “if it’s supposed to be white, it is”, therefore the brain sees it as “white”.
Now for the Nit Picking
If angelic beings are traditionally seen as white…the brain will see it as white. But in the (Fig 1), it’s blue because of the open shade. Yes…moving the subject away from harsh daylight is what many photographers do to soften the features. But moving the subject from a daylight-balanced area into open shade miss-matched the Kelvin temperature.  Therefore, the scene turned a bit blue.
Although open shade light is soft, the neutral colors lean to the cooler side of the Kelvin scale, thus, the blue. The solution is the set the white color balance to the correct mode. “Cloud” or “Shade” mode is good for most overcast days or open shade. It warms up the whites to neutral.
If the image is already shot, Photoshop may be an easy solution in post processing. One must be a master at the “lab” side of photography, as well as the camera side.
Open the image in Photoshop. Open Levels (Image/Adjustments/Levels). Look for the White Eye Drop tool. Use it to click the lightest white on the angle’s costume. If done correctly, the “white” should be a closer balance to neutral, showing a textured white, (Fig 2).
However, if the photo was converted to B&W…white could be gray…which is a different conversation all together. If it’s going to be gray…let it be a textured gray with a pure white on the image somewhere. In the B&W mode, one doesn’t worry about color balance…cause B&W images are shades of gray.
Whatever the case, understand that white to the eye, is not necessarily white to the camera.