One Solution to my Theater White Balance Conundrum

Well, none of my 14 readers offered suggestions for how to approach the often daunting task of selecting white balance for theater productions, so in this post I’ll show you my favorite post-processing solution. I discovered this after photographing my son in a high school performance of Oklahoma! In one scene, Curly is lit by an amber-gelled light, while Laurie is lit by a blue gel. A color image in which one of them didn’t look weird required more time and Photoshop skill than I was willing to devote, so I just converted the image to black and white.

At this fraction of a second, these two were lit by dramatically different colored lights. Color? We don't need no stinkin' color!

Below are some images from a rehearsal of Besant Hill School’s production of The Woolgatherer. Newspapers only want color images these days, but for me, drama always looks most dramatic in black and white.

Richard handles tech for the Besant Hill School productions, and helped me judge the lighting while the actors were getting ready.

Here's the image from the previous post. Converting to black and white always makes me want to crank up the sharpening and contrast. For better or worse.

I cannot explain this, but weird angles always look better to me in black and white. In color, I just skipped over this one, but in black and white I like it.

I've known this teenager since he was a toddler, and let me tell you, the kid can act. As befits the part, he was somehow menacing without being threatening. And I may as well say it now: teenagers tend to have acne, and acne loves the camera. When practical, I do some skin smoothing in post-processing to help the kids out. Converting to black and white diminishes acne's power to distract.

Another extreme angle coupled with black and white. At times like this, I wonder how much better the pictures would be if I exposed them with black and white in mind - as I would have in my film days.

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Filed under Camera Settings, Dance and Theater, Lighting, Post Processing

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