September 24, 2018 Tech tips: White Balance when shooting outdoors (CSP NL November 2018)

Why is my model green?

Shooting outside is great! Natural settings  are a key part of our paradigm, outdoor locations are usually free, and in hot weather, it can be a blessing to leave hot video lighting behind. Outdoor shooting does come with it’s own set of tech issues though.

In order to keep the model out of direct sunlight (and the eyes of the public), shooting in forests is a great solution. The issue is that the greenery essentially acts like big green filters to the white sunlight, giving a green cast.

A knee-jerk reaction is to fix this with a white balance adjustment (while traditionally a blue-orange adjustment, white balance on modern digital cameras also works on the green-purple axis), but the issue here is not the colour temperature, but the actual colour of the light source. A WB adjustment will make it look ok on an LCD screen but in fact cut out a huge amount of the reds and purples making skin look horrible.

So, we need to find a way to get clean white light  (often called clean light) onto the model.

White sheets help with do this. Look for large splotches of light between tree shadows. Position the white surface down one side of the set (off camera, of course), in direct sunlight that hits this, bouncing onto your model giving you white light illuminating her skin. Then, expose for this.

There will still be some green fill light from the off-side, but by angling the model towards the true-white source as the main light, the green fill looks natural for the scene.


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