Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Daylight Balanced Light Bulbs

Posted by larrylohrman on July 13, 2006

I thought I’d highlight an an example that Mark Lacoste gave us in some recent comments regarding a tip that Kris Dick the real estate photographer from Sydney Australia. Kris mentioned that he carries a bunch of daylight balanced (5000K) light-bulbs with him when photographing interiors and replaces all the light-bulbs in a room when photographing. The idea is that daylight light coming in from the outside has a color temperature of 5000K. So if you replace interior light bulbs with bulbs that are the same color temperature as daylight coming in from the outside you won’t have a mixture of color temperatures. What will happen if you don’t replace the bulbs is the lights inside will have a reddish color because the color temperature of typical incandescent bulbs is red compared to daylight.

Mark Lacoste said that he purchased some 5000K daylight balanced bulbs and showed us the above example where he has replaced the incadesent bulbs in the three table lamps in this photo with 5000K daylight balanced bulbs he recently purchased. Note how the color of the light from the lamps is essentially the same color as the light from the window.

If you’d like to try this technique just Google the term “daylight balanced bulbs” to find suppliers of 5000K bulbs.

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7 Responses to “Daylight Balanced Light Bulbs”

  1. I should have done a photo with regular lamps, too, to show the difference. And wait for a lower exterior lightning, here is solar noon in july, not really a dull day. I bought my bulbs at http://discountbulb.net/ and ridiculed myself buying 120V bulbs for our 240V system. I don’t think their life expectancy will be 10k hours…

  2. Sai said

    Great shot. I do have a question or so. I also read the article by Marc Lacoste. Using daylight balanced bulbs is very helpful regarding color correcting (if that’s what you need to do).

    My question is, based on your judgement when would you stick with warmer lights inside instead of switching to daylight balanced bulbs? I would guess you would judge it based on the overall color scheme of the home being shot?

    Thanks in advance.

  3. Sai, Changing bulbs to daylight to get a consistant color light is something you are only going to do when you know your audience or client is very diserning. For example if you are shooting a magazine or if you are shooting with daylight balanced film. In fact I think the practice of changing bulbs is a tradition that’s passed down from film shooters that used film balanced for one color temperature. Now days, if you shoot raw you don’t have to worry much about color balance bacause when you are opening the raw files with camera raw you can shift the color balance to what looks good and gives you the effect you want.

    I’ve gone back over a bunch of my shots from the last year or so when there was both light from the window and incadesent bulbs inside and I can’t find an example where the two colors of light are noticable. Maybe Marc or Kris Dick has an example.

  4. Kris Dick said

    That’s a good example photo Marc.

    One of the reasons I carry those bulbs is so I can replace any really strong or high powered “normal” bulbs. I’ve found that correcting the colour balance doesn’t always give a perfect result and I prefer the manual route.

    I tend to leave normal bulbs in and leave the warmer orange hues in houses that I feel should have a warmer tone to them. It’s an aesthetic thing that I guess would very from photographer to photographer and from house to house. I’ll try and chase up a few examples.

  5. I’d say that warmer, orange lighting looks good for the evening, but 5000°K bulbs are great to match a midday light color, and these bulbs are twice as powerful. It’s great to use digital photography WB capacities to change the mood of a scene the way you prefer. See Wikipedia: Color temperature

  6. Ah, exifs were preserved on the original photo at flickr, I used a “Cloudy weather” WB to add warmth to the scene. I’m pretty proud to have make this in five minutes with a cheap digicam (but two hours mastering the stiching software). BTW, feel free to link directly the photo to the flickr page, Larry, it’s intend for this use.

  7. Mark Reibman said

    I find that the issue of the orange color is most noticeable as the light is cast against a ceiling or a wall (I just hate those darn mushroom ceiling fixtures!) and not from a lampshade or bulb itself. It’s a minor issue and I don’t think my customers would want me to climb up on a step ladder and change the bulbs in the lighting fixtures. I do think I’ll pick up few of those bulbs to have with me where I can easily replace an obviously offending light source. Also, stagers are sometimes remiss in putting in light bulbs so I’m going to start carrying some with me. I also agree with Kris about the warm glow of the incandescent. At times I’ve removed the more global color cast to discover that it actually enhances the image and then I undo it.

    I do appreciate the suggestion and think it’s worthwhile to have some of those daylight bulbs with me.

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