White Balance?

Who knew light had temperature?

Well, it does.  Back in the day, if you used a film set for “daylight” full spectrum sunlight, outdoors, you were all set.  But if the daylight was blocked by clouds, then everything was left with a bluish cast.

Even more obvious was if this same film was used indoors under tungsten light!

Then, people suddenly acquired deeply ruddy complexions.  Not because the film was bad!  It wasn’t.  It was simply, accurate.

You see, our genetically programmed brains love sunlight!  We were raised on it.  However, artificial, incandescent vehicles, significantly different from sunlight, are “perceived” as being straight-on white light, like the sun, not reddish or greenish, as they actually are.

This is what we prefer, and this is what our brains provide.

Film, and even digital pictures, that aren’t “color-corrected” for white balance, actually show what colored light is actually illuminating a given scene.  They reveal the real “color temperature”.

But we human beings don’t like seeing other people with greenish skin tones, or even pallid family members suddenly adorned in sunburned splendor.

So, years ago, film was formulated and sold to match specific lighting conditions (daylight/tungsten), and now digital cameras can automatically correct or be adjusted to record acceptable “white-balance”.

It’s great that cameras can do this.

But it’s terrible when people do.  Communities do not need “white balance”.

Quite apart from snap-shots and family portraits, sometimes people can’t see color right in their own city, and even though it’s blatantly there, they would prefer to switch on “white balance”.

It’s illegal to do this overtly or violently.  But subtle and apparently more tangential means can be just as effective.

Long ago, the great anthropologist Ashley Montague showed how concepts of “race” were far more contrived than scientifically consistent.

Yet, beyond mere color and hue, ethnicity is profoundly important, as it has more to do with personal and historical culture and experience.

Yes, our skin tones have little more significance than the tint in our hair.  But our ethnic heritage is far more than skin deep and carries with it far more meaning.

So, whatever your background, research it, and be proud of it.

Regardless of your skin color, be sensitive to, and supportive of those who, on the surface, seem different.

Because, the truth is, when you scratch a tad below the surface, those who seem so divergent from us racially, are actually kindred family.

No matter how it’s perceived, the powerful fact is, we are all sisters and brothers.


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