When shooting theater and dance, I struggle with white balance settings. Should I try to capture the lighting effects, or should I try to create flattering skin tones? I haven’t figured this out, and agonize over it every time. I shot The Wool Gatherer at Besant Hill School in RAW so I could experiment with white balance afterwards. This is another conundrum that reminds me of the old New Yorker cartoon of the little man carefully studying a painting, while his wife explains to their hostess, “He knows all about art, but he doesn’t know what he likes.”
This whole frustrating process also reminds me of my days at Kinko’s, when Canon and Xerox introduced competing color copiers. Just as with Kodak and Fuji in the film wars, the American company strove for accuracy, while the Japanese company delivered pleasing colors. The Japanese companies won. By shooting in RAW, I keep the option of producing “pleasing” colors after the shoot, but white balance influences exposure, so if you are trying to nail the shot in camera right from the start, you need to put a stake in the ground vis a vis white balance. Ultimately, I think this is one of those decisions that will partially define my personal style, if I ever develop one. How do you make white balance choices?