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Old October 4th, 2007, 08:31 AM   #1
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White balancing with mixed lighting

I recently used my VX2100 to do a shooting of a retail showroom that was mostly incandescent lighting, but they also used fluorescent accent lighting on many wall displays. These were "under counter" types and I think they were daylight temp fluorescents.

I did a manual white-balanced in the normal room light using the white walls. This produced a pronounced blue cast around all objects illuminated by the fluorescent lights. When I did a white balance under the fluorescent lights the white walls of the room (and everything else) had a much too red cast.

I have clips of each with hopes I can reach a happy medium during post. But, how should I have set the white balance during the shoot? I am fairly new at this stuff and this was the first time I had to shoot in mixed light where I could not fully control the lighting.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old October 4th, 2007, 09:41 AM   #2
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I'd unhook the lights of one or the other color temperatures during the shoot. A "happy medium" never looks happy. With enough of a budget I'd either use my own light kit or gell the light kit to match one of the color temperatures in the room and kill the other lights (or use lights to "motivate")
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Old October 4th, 2007, 10:25 AM   #3
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Craig,

Thanks for the input. The showroom used these accent lights everywhere they had an item on a white wall - about 80-100 along the main wall in one room. I did not have enough gel (my error) or enough lighting to substitute with my lights. Rookie mistake!
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Old October 4th, 2007, 10:58 AM   #4
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Try using a white card on the subject and zoom in tight to it then set WB, zoom out frame and focus and you'll probably be a lot closer than WBing on the wall itself. Mixed lighting can cause migrane headaches when you edit.

The best solution of course is to supply your own lights and overide the "stock" lighting.
Don

Last edited by Don Bloom; October 4th, 2007 at 10:59 AM. Reason: forgot something
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Old October 4th, 2007, 11:05 AM   #5
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I can't believe I'm about to say this when I was just heralding the practice of treating white balance like film stock and not dealing with white cards...

This sounds like a job for Warm Cards, particularly the 1/2 warm. If you want to mix the temps but can't place a white card in a place where both light colors hit it, fake it. I believe if you white balance to a 1/2 warm card, it will give you the effect of splitting the balance without you having to maneuver and get the camera and card somewhere where both sources cast light. With this method, the daylight lights will be less blue and the tungsten sources will be more orange, but not nearly as much as what you described.

Of course, this would all be unnecessary if you have the budget and time to gel the sources to match or use your own fixtures. But realistically, how often do we get that and how often are stores and such willing to let you mess with their lights?

Good luck.

~~Dave
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Old October 4th, 2007, 11:09 AM   #6
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yep, you're right, warm cards WOULD be better for this. Thanks for reminding me. I gotta dig mine out :-)

Don
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Old October 4th, 2007, 11:30 AM   #7
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Dave,

Thanks. I procrastinated on ordering the warm cards, but now I'll give them a try. Perhaps the client will let me come back just for a few moments so I can get some test shots under these conditions. Now if I can do that without them realizing I goofed!
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Old October 4th, 2007, 11:37 AM   #8
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The problem with white balancing, in this case, is often you're NOT shooting just the subject in one place. People walk and talk, camera pans, etc. Color temp will change as you move.

As often as not the issue IS the client. A rookie might not catch or point out the problem but even if you did the client may well balk at the solutions. Lighting takes time and time costs money as well as the additional lighting gear.

I ALWAYS discuss what the lighting situation is before the simplest of shoots. I explain the options and cost and the client lives with their choice. Generally the cheapest solution is to pull one type or another bulbs and/or avoid windows.

If they don't want me to mess with their lights they get what they get. If they are unhappy with the color I can do scene by scene color correction and they can pay for that and often that's more expensive than the time it takes to pull the bulbs and broadly light an area with a couple of Lowel Totas.
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Old October 4th, 2007, 12:58 PM   #9
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Craig,

Yes, color temps changed frequently from room to room. I had to color balance often with my trusty white paper. The oops came when I had to pan a large room and could not find a universally suitable location to WB.

I think I will add the lighting discussion to my pre-shoot consultation. Most of my clients would have no idea how severe this could affect the overall project, so I may try to print some stills of comparative results.

I feel it is my responsibility to alert the client to cost/quality trade-offs before the contract is entered. Surprises can turn clients away faster than anything.

I know that if I had this discussion prior to the shoot, they would have been more than happy to accommodate solutions. Hopefully, with the magic of post I can minimize the impact of this "ah-sh__" experience.
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Old October 4th, 2007, 01:26 PM   #10
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Yes the pan across the room can be a real killer especially if there's daylight coming in a window plus mixed bulb types.

In those situations you can live with "auto white balance" on the camera if there's a real budget constraint.

There's keyframing color correction in post and that's time=money.

There's the "rough" create edit points as the camera pans the major color shift areas, color correct each section and dissolve between them (poor man's keyframing of sorts).

Then there's the control the lighting with lights and gels (gels can go on windows too BTW). This takes time and may need a bigger lighting budget.

In many cases the client won't know what's best but at the very least they need to inform you of the lighting situation as best they can. Then you can inform them of the options depending on budget. If the client opts for "auto white balance" low budget you can let them know there are serious pitfalls with that but at least you warned them so it's now their responsibility to pay for the fix.

Sometimes one option is to pick another room for that scene (it depends on the importance of the room).
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Old October 4th, 2007, 05:06 PM   #11
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On my website I have a How-To that describes a low budget but effective way to address mixed lighting white balance correction.

http://www.enosoft.net/products/enod...iteBalance.htm

John.
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