The Bad Rap Against Mixed Lighting

Kathryn Portrait

I'm the first to admit that there are days when a mixed lighting scene would not be my first choice. But I don't feel that way all of the time.

And in fact, there are instances when I capture something that I truly like using a couple different light sources, such as this portrait of Kathryn.

Portrait by Derrick Story. Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom at 130mm f/3.5, ISO 1600, 1/400th, +2/3 exposure compensation.

The location for the shoot was a yoga studio that had a large skylight overhead. I had packed my usual gear including backdrops, strobes, and Lowel Ego Lights, which are 30W compact fluorescent lamps color balanced to 5000 degrees.

The light coming in from outside was probably around 5600 degrees, but it was tinted by the walls and flooring of the studio. All in all, it was quite a grabbag of color temperatures. We added to the recipe by using a circular Photoflex MultiDisc Circular Reflector for offside fill light using the silver/gold surface.


So how did I bring this all together? Well, first of all, none of the color temperatures were extremely different than my main lights, which were stacked Lowel Ego Lights. So my range was tolerable from the get go. I used a white/gray/black card for the first few frames to help me fine tune the color, if necessary, in post.

As it turned out, the color looked very good on the Canon 5D Mark II LCD, which is important for me during the shoot because I like to show images to the subject to build confidence. But in post, I thought they were a tad too warm, so I did cool them off.

It was worth it, however to have that wonderful, natural hair light during the shoot. I think that top light adds much to the composition. And with benefits like that, I'm happy to deal with a mixed light scenario.

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