While in Barcelona a few weeks ago and visiting Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, I found myself taking pictures in a room with a very interesting balance of sunlight and tungsten light sources. In most situations, setting proper white balance means dialing in the color temperature of the primary light source so that neutral colors come out neutral. In this particular case where I was photographing sculptural white walls illuminated with two very different light sources, however, white balance became a purely creative decision. If I were limited to shooting JPG images, I could choose to shoot with a daylight white balance and let the tungsten illuminated surfaces go yellow. Or, I could choose to shoot with a tungsten white balance and let the daylight surfaces go blue. But, since I was shooting RAW, I decided to postpone the decision and determine the white balance I wanted to use in Lightroom.
Once I was done shooting and I imported my images into Lightroom, I started to look for the white balance I wanted for the image. By using the white balance tool, I determined the artificial light sources to have a color temperature of 2500K and the daylight streaming in to have a color temperature of 4100K. However, I found myself more interested in the play of the color of the light sources on the white walls than in correcting for one source or another. So, I worked through a range of temperatures and looked for the interaction of colors. Here’s a movie illustrating this with 6 different settings ranging from 2500K to 5000K:
As with the other videos I’ve posted recently, you can scrub through back and forth to compare the different images created solely with different color temperature settings.
In the end, I ended up using a color temperature near 3300K so that both light sources would produce a strong color. I then played up the color differences slightly using the Vibrance slider to increase the saturation of the yellows and blues in the image. The end result is an image that results entirely on the properties of two different kinds of white light. You can see a larger version of the end result, as well as other images from Casa Batlló, on my Flickr account.