- Colour temperature
- Types of lights
- Use of gels
- Reflectors

Colour temperature is an interesting topic and one that is actually quite confusing. If you look at the picture above, you will see a gradient that changes from red to blue. This gradient chart demonstrates the wide range of kelvin temperatures, from 1,000k to 10,000k. When handling a DSLR camera it is possible to change the kelvin temperature, to achieve a certain look and feel in your scene. For instance, if you wanted to portray a warm feeling, you could set the kelvin number to 1,000k on your camera, whereas, choosing 10,000k would accomplish a cold feeling. Well that is what I thought. It turns out it doesn’t quite work like that. Daylight has a colour temperature of 6,500k, so if you were to set the kelvin temperature on your camera to 2,500k you would assume, basing on the chart above that the image would be very red and warm?

As the picture above shows, capturing a scene at 2,500k will actually produce a very cold feel. Whereby setting the kelvin high, like 10,000k, it will produce a warm scene. So yes, its basically opposite of the chart. However, since daylight has a colour temperature of 5,600k - 6,500k, if filmed/photographed at anywhere between 5,600k – 6,500k it will sustain the colour temperature, which direct sun generates.

It is important to remember this when photographing a scene because being able to control the temperature of the setting is very powerful. While the components inside the composition play a huge role, when it comes to conveying a particular message to the audience, the colour temperature has a similar effect on the audience. For that reason, we often see it utilized in films. An example may be when the filmmaker wants to create a very damp, cold and eerie mood, to enhance the thriller; they will adjust the kelvin to match this message.

Types of lights

When preparing a filming shoot it is mandatory to get the lighting conditions right for the scene. To do this filmmakers use lighting equipment, often the red headlights or HMI lights.

Redhead lights are 3,200k

HMI lights are 5,600k – 6,000k

It is important to take note that when filming with any of these lights, they come with their own colour temperature limitations. Therefore, prepare the shoot so the lights synchronise with the colour appearance you are trying to achieve.

Use of Gels

So why do we need to use gels? Well, like adjusting the colour temperature to achieve a cooler or warmer look, gels expand on this. Due to the vast amount of colours they come in; green, red, blue, yellow and so on, it makes them extremely versatile. As such, they are useful in adding drama to a scene or changing the mood to portray a different attitude.


Reflectors are another important lighting component. They can be used for a variety of reasons, but most prominently, they are used to control the direction and harshness of light. Often when shooting a scene, the light directed on the subject may be too powerful, or might insufficient. Thus, a reflector is used to soften the light on the subject, or if there is not enough light, reflect more light on to the subject.

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