THE 3 DAVES & WHITE BALANCE: A RETROSPECTIVE
There’s a lot of talk about how digital photography has taken all the technique out of darkroom post-production and editing.
In regards to Hands-on-ed-ness palpable dealing with chemicals and wearing gloves? Yeah I guess. But I disagree wholeheartedly, there are 1,000,000 ways to manipulate…and screw up…a photo in the digital age (i.e. HDR).
Above are 3 pictures of Dave Simonett. Through programs like Lightroom…or in my case Bridge (because I’m ancient) the RAW photographer has the ability to change the viewers perception in nearly countless ways, and the example of manipulation showcased here is with the temperature slide, or white balance.
In the examples I have provided, you can see the difference in color and color contrast, ranging from an ice cold blue @ 2,000 K (left) to a smoking hot orange 12,000 K (right) @, and in the middle is what I like to call the “sweet spot” @4,800 K. The “sweet spot” is where the colors don’t run into each other, where the brightness, saturation and luminosity of the bright lights compliment each other rather than fight against the stark blacks, and everything just comes together. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.
DIFFERENCES/WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
If this were a science experiment, we’ll use the “sweet spot” as a control. In “ice cold” you notice how Dave’s shirt turns more purple and begins to blend into the b/g, and in “smokin hot” his face begins to blend with his shirt and hat, his guitar strap is COMPLETELY blown out, and the difference between the b/g and his shirt is beginning to melt into each other, just as we saw with “ice cold”. Then there’s the “sweet spot”. Where the reds and the blues learn to live in harmony together, and the blacks make the colors *POP!*.
Tipping white balance towards the yellow (5,600-50,000 K) can be used to create a sense of nostalgia, warmth, dreaminess, old-school vintage-ness and overall happiness. While tipping the white balance towards blue (5,600 - 2,000 K) creates a sense of desolation, isolation, sadness, dreariness etc. For reference, I try and find something that is supposed to be “true white” and slide the bar up and down ‘til I find my middle ground.
I like to keep my photography as close to the real deal as possible, because I believe as a photographer, it is my responsibility that my viewers see what I saw, and bring them back a little slice of the show. To put it into more cohesive words (because i can’t speak no good)…
"If I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see on TV". ~ Kenneth Jareke.
These words inspire me everyday to work towards my dream of becoming a freelance photo-journalist.