I had an assignment last week to photograph a fencing class taught by former Olympic competitor Tom Strzalkowski. The lighting inside the room where it was being taught was predominantly florescent and the walls were a tan or sand color. For some reason my camera had a really hard time adjusting to this combination. I tried several settings including a custom white balance, preset and auto white balance. Yet everything was coming out with a yellow orange color cast to it. If I had more time I probably would have lit the entire room with strobes, but this was assignment 2 of 3 and I was already skipping the first part of a football game to complete it. I managed to pull the color out of any image I was going to publish but it took a lot of tweaking in post production.
Often times I see other photographers post images in black and white on their websites, portfolios, flickr, etc. I wonder how many of the images were just bad white balance and how many where done on purpose. When I look through student portfolios and see color and black and white images next to each other, I can almost bet on bad color to be the reason. I understand the draw to desaturate images to make it look like you shot it on Tri-x. I still love black and white film but don’t have the resources or time to develop anymore. Maybe someday I will have a space that I can put a darkroom back together. But for now here are some pathetically cliché images because I suck at white balancing under those circumstances.