Mixed Lights – A Blessing in Disguise


Jessica Curtis at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco

I remember early on learning about color temperature and different types of light sources – warm-orange incandescent lights, green fluorescents, cold-blue halogens. I learned they were something to be avoided. I was taught how to gel my lights so they would match the ones behind the subject and then balance the whole thing back to daylight. But something funny happened when I did some night photography. I fell in love with all the colors in my photos when there were mixed lights.

My recent shoot with Jessica Curtis for InMenlo had such an opportunity. The kitchen behind her had all three types of lights I mentioned above. I decided to light her with my soft box and shoot at daylight temperature. This let the lights in the back do their mixed magic.

Chad Puhalj on his roof in Berkeley, CA

The shot of skateboard entrepreneur Chad Puhalj offered one of my favorite mixed light scenarios, a sunset, city lights and my strobes. As the sun fell behind the horizon, it went from yellow to blue and magenta. The lights came up in the city and on the roof where we were shooting, all warm and yellow. I balanced the the desired light temperature to my strobe on Chad. I also fired a strobe on the metal behind him to get a pure silver glow.

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