This week we look at the the cultural, psychological and technical aspects of shooting White as a subject.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of White?
In Western cultures White is usually associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. A bride's choice of colour for the wedding dress; it is considered to be the colour of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness.
However, in Eastern cultures, white is associated with death and definitely not the common bride's choice, preferring Red. So depending upon your background, the meaning of white can be the extreme opposite.
The difference between white light and white pigment.
When light is refracted through a prism, it is divided into the colours of the spectrum or rainbow. Therefore white light is composed of all spectral colours.
Pigment colours are a little different. We see a colour because it is reflected off the surface of something- all other colours are absorbed. A flower is yellow because the yellow light reflects off it and the rods and cone receptors in our eyes can see it. Likewise, when the three primary colours- Red, Yellow and Blue are mixed together, the result is a muddy dark/ black.
There is some debate about whether white is considered a colour.
When considering colour additive theory of light, white is the result of all colour spectrums together. However, when considering pigments, white is not a colour, rather, it is the absence of colour. You cannot mix other colours to create white. Check this link for more info.
Warm and Cool White.
If you've ever painted your bathroom ceiling white you will know that selecting 'white' is not that simple. Whites come in all shades depending upon the base tone. Usually called warm (yellow tones) or cool (blue tones), this distinction also applies to light globes. Warm light has a yellowish tinge and cool light is blue and brighter.
Often we can only see white objects because of the contrasting colours next to it.
- When shooting White, you are really shooting tonal variations on the surface of something.
- Look for textures and shapes to add interest
- Due to the absence of colour, make sure your composition is very strong.
- Be careful not to over-expose the subject, use bracketing down to compensate.