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White balance with Colored lights

Francesco Andreoli

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Hi everybody,


I have a big doubt about White balance.

I know how it works with the tungsten light, fluorescent or HMI but my question is:


what WB I have to setting in camera if I have colored light (with gels) as key light?

what is the best setting to maintain a good skin tones?


For example, in the picture below..

(lighting with kinoflo + pink gel)


Thank you so much for your help



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By definition, under a heavily-colored lamp, you aren't getting "good" (i.e. normal) skin tones.


What color temp you use just depends on what you want a "white" (un-colored) light in the scene to look like. If there are no white lights in the scene, then it just depends on if you want to shift to make the blues heavier versus the oranges.


But if all the gels are going onto tungsten lamps, or a tungsten Kino in this case, then at least setting your camera to tungsten (3200K) would get you closer to reproducing how the gels look to your eye in the room. Otherwise, there is no right or wrong setting in this situation, just depends on what you like.


Modern theater lighting like on Broadway stages often uses daylight-balanced sources with color wheels, or now RGB LED sources so often I find it better to set the camera anywhere from 4300K to 5600K if I want to reproduce how the colored lighting looks to the audience. But if I set the camera to 3200K, it just means that the blues will be more intense and more dominant.

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The point of using colored gels is usually to accurately reproduce the gel color. So if you are using a pink gel, then it's because you want the light to look pink. That can only happen if the light's color temperature and the camera's color temperature match before you apply the gel - or in other words, if the light appears white to begin with.

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