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Thread: Correcting Color Cast From Orange Sodium Lighting at Night

  1. #1

    Correcting Color Cast From Orange Sodium Lighting at Night

    I have long been interested in night photography, and as I am often up and around while the rest of the world sleeps (shift worker) I am going to start getting out there and playing.

    I live in Swindon, which has some really interesting modern architecture but also some fantastic Edwardian/Victorian buildings, from the days of the Great Western Railway. I had a play the other night and everything was thrown off by the sodium street lighting. Does anyone have any tip or advice for adjusting the colour balance to ease the orange caste in my photos? What is the colour temp of sodium lights?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    California, USA
    Real Name
    Sodium lighting is very problematic because unlike most other artificial light sources, it is nearly monochromatic in nature. This means that even large adjustments in white balance (when shooting in RAW mode, which I suggest if you are not already) may not ever regain other colors to balance out the photo. Even extreme adjustments to white balance will just create tons of bluish image noise.

    Just about the only thing would be to use a very strong color filter or cooling filter on the camera lens itself, carefully chosen to block the type of light which those lamps emit. In fact, that page in the link gives an example of one such photo. This would require an extremely long exposure, but is really the only solution just short of changing the bulbs themselves . You could also try it during a full moon to see if it provides enough non-orange wavelength light that you can recover it in a white balance afterwards. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Thanks that helps. I am shooting in RAW and as you say, mucking about with the white balance screws up the noise.

    I shall try with some more moonlight.

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