Mixed Color Temperatures and White Balance in Art Photography

Situations with differing light sources with differing light temperatures are difficult for wedding photographers or other professionals who must produce naturalistic pictures. Film can either be for sunlight or for artificial light and a digital sensor of a modern digital camera can only perform white balance for one lightsource in each single picture. Books have been written about this topic and how to overpower light sources with flash.

For the art photographer however this is a golden opportunity to add an unusual artistic element.

Ridley Scott used this a lot in the movie „The Blade Runner“ and it contributed greatly to the beautiful, surreal cinematography.

in this picture I adjusted the white balance to the natural light of the sunset in the background but exposed to light from the neon tubes in the underpass.

People in an underpass


This creates the greenish, surreal gliw and helps to create two distinct parts.

Here is another example

Two beautiful girls saying farewell in a brightly illuminated entrance in very heavy, dark rain, neon lights, Bladerunner athmosphere

A Farewell in the Rain

The girls stand in the yellow tungsten light in the entrance, the background appears fale and blue and the neon sign above a bit surreal as it is also a different light temperature. This clearly separates the girls from the background and draws the viewers eye towards them with the neon sign competing for attention and balancing them in a vertical axis.