Color Correction for Fluorescent Lighting

  • One of the more frustrating color photography situations is working with fluorescent lighting. (Black-and-white photography is no special problem.) Light intensity with fluorescents is a measurement situation like any other. The lighting is quite even, and the brightness level is usually quite high. But color work is a problem because fluorescents do not emit light by radiation from a glowing filament, and so there is no true color temperature. The light looks all right to the eye, but photographs badly in color - usually with an overall greenish cast. Things are complicated because there are more than eight kinds of fluorescent lamps commonly manufactured, plus at least six forms of high intensity discharge lamps.

  • The usual way of working toward a correct color rendition is to use CC filters, singly or in combination, to bring the color of photographic results to a balance that approximates the way the eye would see the subject in daylight. Generally this works quite well, but there is always the possibility that one or more pigments in the subject scene will respond entirely unexpectedly, and appear off-color or even as a totally different color from that seen by the eye. Several filter manufacturers produce two filters for the generalized correction of fluorescent lighting. These are designated FL-D (for Daylight films), and FL-B (for Type B films). Of course, given the large number of tube types available, these offer only an approximate correction.

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