My girlfriend is allergic to my camera, which makes it notoriously difficult to get pictures of her that she approves of. Every time I raise the lens, it’s when she’s sneezing, sniffling, yawning, or burping. There is a possibility I’m at fault for this, but I totally doubt it.
While on the train, I liked how the light from the window was looking on her, so I asked for a smile instead of my usual fare. While I liked the look I captured, I was met with a tough issue by way of white balance.
Our brains are amazing with what they can convince us of. One such amazing thing is how we can look at different “near white” colours of light and just assimilate the scene in terms of colours. The tungsten lights in the kitchen, the halogens in the dining room, the fluorescent tubes in the office, and that gigantic ball of energy that is our sun. While close to being white, they all actually emit different types of white light that is measured in temperature. We tend to be aware of the variations of light different sources provide, and often have a preference as well (few people tend to say they love the beauty of a nice fluorescent lit row of cubicles), however despite their differences, we’re still able to perceive and understand the colours of everything being lit. It happens naturally for us, while a camera needs to be told.
Sure, most cameras these days have an automatic setting that is usually pretty accurate, but even then, if there are two different light sources in play, the sensor isn’t able to mesh them together like our minds tend to.
I ran into this issue here, as I had the sunlight coming in through the train window, made slightly cooler than normal due to the tinting, but then I also had the fluorescent lights from the train interior as my fill light on the left. Because of this, Lauren’s face was coloured in two very different ways that weren’t complimentary.
I had thought about making two copies, adjusting the white balance to what I felt would be optimal per side in each, and then blending them together as layers in Photoshop in hopes of a seamless integration. Then I thought about how much less time it would take if I opted to just remove all colour entirely.
I’m happy with my lazy decision.
I shot this with a 50mm lens shooting at 1/200 and f1.8 with an ISO of 200. When shooting with an aperture that wide, unless your subject is looking at you perfectly symmetrically, only one eye will end up being in focus. It’s usually best to make that the closest eye to the camera.