Introduction

Lighting equipment is used in film and TV to light a shot. This is because natural light isn’t always to the best quality and in a lot of cases a shot can be made more powerful with artificial light. When using lighting equipment it is important to think about white balance and the colour temperature. These are the main factors that will determine how good the lighting in a  shot will look in the final production.

What Is Light Balance?

The white balance of a shot controls the colour in an image. There are six different settings that change the temperature of a shot to allow the Camera Operator to add or remove the effects wanted. White balance works by adapting the shot by balancing the colour temperature to get an equal amount of kelvin. It is mainly used to change the image to what is seen by the human eye, although it can be used to create a certain effect. For example white balance can be used to create an over saturated effect which can be difficult to do in post production with footage that is the opposite of what is needed.

Colour Temperature

Colour temperature effects the hue in an image. As mentioned above, the colour temperature is measured in the kelvin unit and is neutralized by using white balance. The colour temperature amount will determine how warm or cool the colours are in a shot.

 Image result for kelvin scaleAs seen on the right, the kelvin Scale can be used to determine what the colour temperature is in a shot. For example an image taken on a cloudy day would have a kelvin scale of around 7000K, however a sunset with very little cloud would have a scale of around 3000K. In the modern day, most cameras and even some phones have the settings that allow you to change the white balance and colour temperature so you have more freedom when taking pictures and recording video. This can also save time in post production.

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How Does The White Balance On A Camera Function?

In most cameras there are seven white balance settings. Auto, cloudy, shade, tungsten, florescent, flash, and daylight are all used to help get the best and most neutral balance of light. Each and every preset has advantages and disadvantages which is why time and care should be taken to choose which one to use as it will have a big effect on the final image. Although there is a difference between each preset they all (other than flash) use the same process to balance a photo. With the use of the kelvin scale, you can see the different colours and where the neutral point of light is. The neutral point is roughly in the middle and is marked as 5000k. To make the image have a neutrally balanced amount of light, the camera will take or add the amount of kelvin to/from the setting and apply it to the image, adjusting the final look.

Practical Task

For this task we were asked to take pictures in different locations to test each setting, showing the differences that each one made to the final image. This would help us see exactly what white balance preset worked in the best location and what the advantages and disadvantages were of each one. To ensure that we got a good variety of images we went to three different locations to see how the light would be effected.

The first location we went to was outside. On the day that we took the pictures the weather was mostly cloudy but there was still a good amount of sunlight. Out of the six different settings we used, I think that the cloudy preset was the most effective. This is because the colour temperature and white balance worked very well and gave a good quality image. Also the colours were just right with regards to saturation, exposure and contrast. Another setting that I particularly liked was the shade preset, as it gave the photo some warmth and retained the good quality and good level of exposure. The other settings did not work so well as they did not suit the location and scenario. This meant that the exposure and colour where not balanced or was just not clear to look at.

The second location was an interior shot with a lot of natural light. As before we took a picture of the same shot six different times with a different preset. This time I think that the daylight setting was the best option. This is because it has a good level of exposure and the colours were balanced to a good quality. For this location, I think that the only setting that didn’t work to a good standard was the fluorescent preset as the white balance and colour temperature was not to a good standard.

For the last location we were asked to go inside, but this time the picture had to be taken under a tungsten light. This meant that if the light balance had not worked properly the image would seem yellow as that is the colour of the tungsten bulbs. Although the image was blurred due to the camera being on the wrong shutter speed, I think that the florescent setting worked best. This is because it had the best white balance and had a good colour temperature.

From this task I learnt that it is very important to take care when deciding which white balance setting to work with. This is because it has a big effect on how the final image will look. Also I learnt that the white balance settings can have a big role in how an image is perceived to an audience. As mentioned above, at our first outside location one of the images looked very warm and had a good exposure to it. This could work well in many situations, however it is better to have a well balanced colour temperature as warm effects and filters can easily be applied in post production.

What is light?

Light is the result of energy transferring from one place to another. Without it, nothing would be visible. In film and TV it is used in a variety of ways, not only to light a set but to convey a message to the audience. Light can be used many ways to portray an entire shot, a character or even a location in just about emotion possible. With this, there are many ways that a lighting setup can be done.

Three Point Lighting

Three point lighting is a very well known method of lighting that is used in many TV shows and films in today’s media. It is very effective as it allows the Director and the Lighting team get the best quality of lighting. As the name suggests, there are three lights that surround a subject and light it from different angles. Each light gives the image a different effect which is why it is method that is commonly used in film and TV shows. The first and most important light is the key light. This will light the majority of the subject from the angle facing the light. The key light is mainly used just to light the subject. Secondly, is the fill light. This will light your subject from the side, removing or adding any desired shadows or highlights. The fill light is commonly used in interviews and close up conversations to add highlights as the facial features are the most important part and the main subject, therefore shadows are unwanted. The last light that is used in the setup is the backlight. This is the most suttle light out of the the three and gives the shot an outline and is a great way to add emphasis to a subject.

Three Point Lighting Practical Task 

For this task, we were asked to go to two different locations (indoors and outdoors) and use lighting equipment to create a three point setup. To do this we were given a camera, a tripod and a large reflector to reflect the light onto a subject. We were told to change the materials on the reflector to test what colours were most effective. The first location we went to was outside.

Here we used four different colours to reflect the light onto our subject. The setup consisted of the reflector being placed to the left side of the subject and to the perfect angle for the sun to reflect the light onto the subject. When taking the pictures we noticed that the weather was very temperamental as the sun was being covered by the clouds in some of the shots. However this was out of our control. In my opinion, I think that the image with the gold reflector gave the best quality as it lit the subject well from both sides. Although I think we may have got a different result if the weather had been more consistent.

Here we were in the indoors location, but we were still using the same filters to keep it a fair test. This time I believe that the silver filter had the best result. I think this because it provided a good quality of lighting from both sides of the subject.

Bibliography:

The Zen Cart™ (no date) Kelvin Scale & CRI level: Cinelight.Com, video & film lighting equipment. European shop. Available at: http://www.cinelight.com/kelvin-scale-cri-level/ (Accessed: 1 October 2016).

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