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View Full Version : Exposure + white balance problems - critique my photos please



jcanon701
12-20-2007, 02:00 AM
I just got my SLR camera and took a few pictures with it.

These are the main problems I came across: Getting correct exposure + correct white balance

Pictures for comparison (http://www.flickr.com/photos/9921803@N05/sets/72157603502875956/)

The pictures all have a description of what settings I used and my main problems.

Generally, it's trying to keep the subject in good light while still not having to overexpose the background. And just trying to get a sense of what white balance works 'better' with my photos.

I am a beginner so any advice is greatly appreciated

Rooz
12-20-2007, 02:53 AM
hard to tell with the WB. nothing looks grossly put of place. w/ regard to your exposure; your camera is only capable of so much dynamic range in its ability to correctly expose an image and you can;t have everything perfectly exposed when there is such a gross deviation in the level of exposure required. ie: dark blacks/ shadows and very bright whites/ highlights. something has to suffer to get the best out of the other.

the only way to successfully do it, (apart from HDR in PP), is to expose for the sky and use fill flash for the foreground.

Turn
12-20-2007, 04:10 AM
they are fine

hell, they look good actually.

White Balance is fine and so is exposure

Graystar
12-20-2007, 05:31 AM
Ditto on what Rooz said about exposure. Get within flash range and use it to lighten the shadows.

Read up on white balance at http://www.whibal.com/

That should tell you everything you need to know...for now :)
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jcanon701
12-20-2007, 01:13 PM
yea exposing for the sky and using fill flash was the one thing i forgot to do that day (as i mentioned in my flickr photo descriptions)

but thanks for the advice. i thought since i just started using an SLR i was missing out on some technique but i guess not

thanks

GaryS
12-20-2007, 02:26 PM
I threw some comments on your flickr pages.... Keep posting your work!

Overall, I think they are good. But shooting in the middle of the day is always hard if you want to include the sky...

griptape
12-20-2007, 02:49 PM
It's actually a pretty easy fix in post processing, and you can go as extreme or as subtle as you want with it. From this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9921803@N05/2124633520/in/set-72157603502875956/
I spent about a minute to get this:
http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/speakerpp.jpg

griptape
12-21-2007, 10:19 AM
jcanon701 private messaged me to ask what I was using, and how to get the effect I did. I figured it might be a helpful crash course to others to do a step by step, so here it is. Using Photoshop CS3 (Paintshop Pro is just open to give me a place to stick the screen captures to save them).

1. Start with your image you want to correct exposure on:

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image1.jpg


2. On the Layers tab, right click, and duplicate layer.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image2.jpg


3. You can make the top layer transparent (slide the "opacity" slider all the way to the left", just so you can see what you're doing with the bottom layer. But you want to select the bottom layer to actually be the layer you're working on.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image3.jpg


4. Adjust the brightness (and/or contrast, or any other adjustments you want). In this case we want a darker sky, so we'll go ahead and just crank the brightness way down, making the picture generally underexposed.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image4.jpg

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image6.jpg


5. Go back to your top layer, and change the opacity from 0 back to 100, so you only see the top layer.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image7.jpg


6. Take your Eraser, and get to work. I like to have a pretty soft edge most of the time, I find it easier to blend things without leaving nasty hard edged overlaps.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image9.jpg


7. Start erasing the part you want to be darker (because you're erasing the top layer, and remember earlier we made the layer underneath darker). Switch to a smaller eraser for the edges and touch up work.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image10.jpg
http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image11.jpg

griptape
12-21-2007, 10:20 AM
8. In this case, the top layer was still underexposed, and I wanted to make the speaker pop out a little more. So with the top layer still selected, I raised the brightness.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image12.jpg


9. Time to merge the layers, so what you see on the screen is one single image, instead of two images overlapped.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image13.jpg


10.Time for the secret ingredient. Now I COULD take the paint brush and spend a few hours literally painting over things to get this effect, but using the Lucisart plugin (a little pricey, but not if it's something you'll use, it can save countless hours of painting by hand).

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image14.jpg


A little bit of sloppy touch up here and there (this could have been done a LOT better had I spent more time on it, sorry for the laziness) and you have your finished product:

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/Image16.jpg

DonSchap
12-21-2007, 10:43 AM
I looks a little too artificial with the above post processing ... in regards to the subject's paint. Something needs to be backed off. Obviously, this also represents more time invested in the shot. Why not get ahead of the curve, when you take the image?

When shooting into the light source, you have to have a front light source(fill) on your subject for definition ... otherwise, as you have demonsrated, you wind up with a silohuette. While a $300 "fill" flash is one solution, you need to be rather close (within 10-feet, depending an rear light intensity) to make it work effectively. Alternatively, using a reflector (ranging from a polished mirror - to a pop-up aluminumized plastic - to a simple piece of white cardboard) can be a cheap and powerful tool for this purpose. They come in assorted and very portable sizes and are based on that rear light source for their respective light strength (kind of like fighting fire with fire).

That way ... you can eliminate most post-processing issues and not struggle with walking the often thin line between what is real and what is "fantasy."

Best plan: Keep it real.

griptape
12-21-2007, 10:54 AM
I looks a little too artificial with the above post processing ... in regards to the subject's paint. Something needs to be backed off.

When shooting into the light source, you have to have a front light source on your subject for definition ... otherwise, as you have demonsrated, you wind up with a silohuette. Wjhile a $300 fill flash is one solution, you need to be close to make it work effectively. Using a reflector can be a cheap and powerful alternative tool for this. They come in assorted and very portable sizes and are based on that rear light source for their respective light strength.

That way ... you can eliminate most post-processing issues and not struggle with walking the often thin line between what is real and what is "fantasy."

Yeah, this is a pretty extreme, and pretty gaudy example. And there are other ways to get this (with and without post processing) effect. And honestly, I don't consider this good post processing, it's just an example of how to do it where you can really see what changed. My original edit was a lot less extreme, and better overall, but the technique was pretty much the same. Just turned down about 8 notches:

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m235/nothingisworking/speakerpp.jpg

And yes, it still has that "fake" look to it, and it's just a matter of taste whether you like that or not. I personally like it when a "less is more" approach is taken to give the picture just barely enough for me to want to look twice to see if it's real or not.

DonSchap
12-21-2007, 11:13 AM
Look ... I understand the idea of "art" and how it can play into your work.

Do you ever wonder why these animated movies do not look real. Because they simply can't. The memory required to deal with the trillions of pixel manipulations is mind-boggling ... and frankly, just not practical ... yet. So rather than compromizing your shot into something "less real" ... how about dealing with the real?

I just finished up an Advanced Digital Photography class that really frowned :mad: on having to resort to post-processing for elemental technique to repair a shot. Coming from a strong computer background, I was also at odds with this approach, but I feel I have finally understood the concept of "Better photography through ... better photographic technique and skill." In other words, getting ahead of your shot.

They stressed that you really just need to examine your own techniques and fine tune your initial concept work to provide the best image you could ... and not struggle to clear it up and redesign it in "the virtual world." In other words, "Take better pictures." They need to be able to stand on their own, out of the camera. If they don't, then get to work on what it takes to make them better and not spend valuable hours just playing with it.

Now, there is no reason to believe you cannot redesign a shot via software ... it's just pixels, right? But, there are literally millions of them to play with ... and it seems to me (and a good many others) that if you can get a better "initial" image to start with, you are way ahead in that game. You quickly eliminate the idea of contra-lighting and halos, which can happen when you play with it, digitally.

So, yes, I now subscribe to the concept of thinking before firing. BEFORE you press the shutter release, get something and then walk away ... ask yourself the simple question, "Is this the best image I can get?" If the answer is no ... then do something about it. Personally, I carry a couple of light aids with me (reflectors, flashes, BATTERIES), in my car, and prepare for an occasional lighting challenge. There certainly is no harm in it and if (oh if) you are lucky enough to NEVER have to use them to improve your shot, honest to Jake ... good for you. ;)

I will admit that drawing attention to yourself, by blinding a bear, in the deep woods, just to get the lighting right ... can be contrary to good photography methods ... and probably a career-ending move but, I think you know where I am going with this.

If you wind up (like many of us have) in these awkward moments, where the light is just not cooperating ... BEND IT, SHAPE IT, any way you can.

Then ... GET THE (BETTER) SHOT! :D

D Thompson
12-21-2007, 02:18 PM
Why not just apply either a curves or levels adjustment layer to lighte and then paint with black on that mask to hide the adjustment for the sky area? I would think that would give you a bit more control.