There are many things go into making you a successful wedding photographer. Connection with your clients, how professional and personable you are, the experience you deliver, quality of images and the speed in which you deliver those images and finished products. One thing that is for sure, you need to produce professional imagery that evokes an emotion. Lighting is paramount to beautiful pictures. Lighting is also what creates the emotion within that picture. If the lighting is bad and the image is poorly exposed, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to make it into a fantastic shot. The topic of lighting is big and needs to be broken down into several sub-topics in order to be able to explain it well. It isn’t a matter of just ‘feeling the light’ and hoping you will expose it correctly. One thing that helps tremendously is understanding the Kelvin scale and how it works with your white balance. Photography lighting can vary in color temperatures between 2000 degrees Kelvin (which is warm) and 9500 degrees Kelvin (which is cool). This color scale is based on the fact that heated objects produce a specific color spectrum of light which is directly related to their temperature. Ready to be confused? It is a bit backwards when it comes to photography. Low numbers on the Kelvin scale do not mean cooler light, in fact it means warmer. And vice versa. Many photographers use auto white balance and shoot RAW in hopes that correcting it later is easier. But imagine what you can do if you get it right IN camera? You don’t need to buy a color temperature meter, but understanding, studying and practicing using the Kelvin scale will eventually make it second nature.
Here are a few explanations:
- 1700-1930K is for candle or match flame. This really won’t be used too much.
- 2000-3000K – sunrise/sunset. The lighting outdoors changes rapidly during sunset and dawn. When the sun is right on the horizon, the color temperature could be as low as 2000K. This drastic lighting gives a sunset its characteristic yellow, orange, and red hues.
- 2500-3500K – tungsten lighting. Tungsten lighting commonly used indoors has a strong yellow or orange tint. The exact value will depend on the variety of light bulb. Tungsten lights that are designed for use in photography are cooler and more neutral than ordinary tungsten lighting, but still noticeably warmer than outdoor daylight. Think of your video light. If you do not adjust your white balance you will end up with strong yellows.
- 4000K – beautiful early morning or late evening sun. That warm glow that many of us LOVE!
- 5000-5500K – Noon or flash. Noon sunlight produces neutral colors, and has the same color temperature as some flash systems.
- 6000-7500K – A wide range for overcast or cloudy days. The light that is diffused under an overcast sky is slightly bluer and cooler than you would find in direct sunlight, so you want to warm it up a bit. Certain overcast days also can make colors really pop!
- 6500-ishK – Daylight shade. Ever wondered why your photos look blue and dull? It is because auto white balance will not fix this for you.
- Around 7500K – Early morning sun or late evening sun. Open shade on a sunny day will give a drastic cold look. This is because the only lighting in the shade is the blue sky. Don’t shy away from it, just learn to compensate for it.