Camera Filters in Daylight

As a first principle, daylight is not uniform in color throughout the day. It changes dramatically from hour to hour, beginning as a bluish glow immediately before sunrise, moving to a rich golden hue just after the sun rises above the horizon, then changing once again to a cooler blue as it moves directly overhead, and finally becoming progressively warmer toward sunset. Immediately after the sun sets, the sky again takes on an ever-deepening blue cast until all visible light disappears. On a clear day, the atmosphere can look totally colorless. In fact, clear skies contain all the colors of the visible spectrum more or less evenly distributed. In addition to visible colors, the sky reflects infrared and ultraviolet light waves outside the visible spectrum. Even with all this, the sky can still seem totally devoid of color. Everything changes if we alter any component in the color equation. Nature changes this balance as the sun passes through the sky and so can we with photographic filters.

In general, sunlight is composed of a combination of three visual primary colors; red, green, and blue. Combining two of the three primaries will produce three new colors, the secondaries. Secondary colors are important to photographers in two ways. First, they are frequently found occurring naturally, and second, the secondary colors are the colors of the dyes found in all color film.

Secondary colors are derived in the following way:

  • Magenta - equal parts red and blue.

  • Cyan - equal parts green and blue.

  • Yellow - equal parts green and red.

Any color can be generated by altering the proportions of the three primaries. Likewise, photo chemists have the capability to make a color film with any color emphasis simply by altering color dye ratios.

More about film photography

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