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What does RGB stand for and how does it work in photography?

What does RGB stand for? What is RGB used for?” Such questions are now more frequently asked since RGB has been more and more widely used in illuminated devices such as lights and screens of electronic products. In this article, we would like to have it explained and show you one of its specific applications in photography which probably is a field each of us ordinary people is somehow familiar with.

RGB definition

RGB is specified with 3 primary colors - Red, Green and Blue. The intensity of the red, green and blue colors is described as an integral number among 0 to 255. Simply combining the different intensities of these 3 colors to form multiple parameters (red, green, blue) to specify colors on the spectrum that human eyes can see.

Picture: RGB effect on portrait work

RGB effect on portrait work

For instance,

  • (0, 255, 0) is rendered as green;
  • (255, 0, 0) is rendered as red;
  • (0, 0, 255) is rendered as blue.

If the three colors are set at highest intensity, (255, 255, 255), then white is rendered. If set at the lowest intensity, (0, 0, 0), at this time black is rendered.

What is RGB LED?

For a long time, photographers have been applying gels and filters to lights source to add some colors while reserving high output of the light. It is a rather straightforward and fairly inexpensive method, but lacking the consistency of output and color accuracy. Gradually, some people find it important during workplace that color adjustment to be faster and more accurate than this traditional method, as RGB LED can do.

After knowing what does RGB stand for, RGB LED should be easy to understand. It means red, blue and green LEDs combining in multiple collocation to produce different hues of light. RGB LEDs can adjust the color saturation and hue cleverly right at the source to maintain proper color balance between LED lights, camera and existing or ambient light for natural looking results.

Using RGB light for studio creates more inspirations while finding the little spark that went missing when traditional methods have been used only. So, let’s talk about how RGB LED is used in portrait work when pursuing for the missing spark.

1. To change the background color

Instead of preparing unattractive background boards which would take up certain room, making the RGB LED lights emit on a white background can easily satisfy the need for multiple color backgrounds. Besides, unequal lighting can be avoided by practicing positioning as well as resorting to modifiers according to the size and distribution of lights. Moreover, some RGB lights provide circulation among various colors at specific speed, namely, more choices are optional for photo backgrounds.

2. To apply colors on subjects

It happens that, even if the particular color setting can make one person look better, it does not perform the same effect on others. In this case, mixing and matching colors then applying them on the subjects as necessary, no matter a person or an object, is a good way to shape more specific and unique details.

3. To add lights into the scene

During production, additional lights are used other than natural light source and some may wonder, where this peculiar light comes from? So why not try to capture the actual lighting into the frame for a fresh sparkle in creation? Try to lead the viewers into the scene that has been created and show them how it is created in a lively and vivid way.

How to use RGB lighting for photos and videos?

Unlike the traditional gels and filters, RGB video light can be programmed to be any colors or any lighting effects, such as the simulation of street lights or candles and flames. As the RGB lighting becomes more common, its price has been cut down while its capability has been discovered. It is up to the users on how to make the best use of it to achieve satisfying results.

Let’s imagine,

  • To render the sense of future for science fiction, try to make subjects light up from the inside or around the edges;
  • Looking for the colors that are surreal or bizarre? Then the popular lighting of bright and unnatural mood should be considered...

If the current lighting situation does not give specific effect, just think outside the box on how to combine the RGB LEDs for creation.

Tips for video lighting setup

In order to maintain balance and distribution of light for a video production of high quality, there is one basic setup of video light called, three-point lighting setup. It properly distinguishes the main subject from background for sharp features and outlines.

Also, there are few things which should be notice for further perfection on the setup of studio color light:

  1. Control and diffuse the harsh lights with barn doors of the soft box to mitigate the hardness;
  2. Properly adjust the color temperature for accurate and natural colors in accordance with current lighting conditions;
  3. Reduce reflections and glares by increasing light output size or raising the height for key light;
  4. Additional setup for lighting consistency are required when dealing with natural light.