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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    44

    Color Balance -- AUTO

    I have a D70, and I always leave the color balancing in A (Auto). My last photo shoot I did, was a horsing event. A lot of my pictures colors look bad and I can't really fix them in Adobe :/ Or just not skilled enough.

    The day was EXTREMELY sunny and I had my lens hood on and everything. I was up at about 1/1000th shutter w/ a 2.8 - 8.0 f/stop. Shutter adjusted a bit when needed.

    The sample pictures I am uploading, the blue_trim ones, you'll see around the girl's leg, a big bright blue blotch (neon blueish)... and the one with the horse nose and the cut off girl body, you'll see around the middle of the nose, another big blue blotch. But on all of them, I am told by a few people the color just isn't right. I tried adjusting quite a bit and still no good. Everything is kind of bluish tint and I can't really get rid of that without ruining the rest of the picture. I guess is there a way to do this?

    Should I have manually changed my Color Balance to a different setting to keep things close to normal colors and then... I possibly not have such a problem post processing these images? Most of this whole batch is ruined and I'm not happy about it.

    Besides the color problem, I didn't focus in close enough on most shots. Thats my own problem and I can fix that myself ;P Just more curious about the Color Balance... what should I have set it to, and what settings should I have made in addition to that (if I even should touch that?). Any feed back is appreciated! Got another show coming up and I don't want this to happen again
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    Nikon D70

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    4,146

    White Balance

    eyelab-

    Considering the conditions, the photos do not look too bad. Yes, they could be adjusted in PhotoShop CS, and yes, there are some framing problems that need to be addressed, but you already know that.

    In practice, keep watching your photo results in the field on the camera's LCD, then tweak the White Balance as required rather than waiting to get home and download your photos. You will probably be happier with the results.

    Sarah Joyce

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    34
    Of course if the event is very important and no mistakes can be made, you can always shoot RAW and play with white balance later on your computer to see what looks best.

    Another inexperienced thought - if your pictures show blue-tint, maybe the auto-WB chose incandescent (typical home yellowish light bulbs) which shifts the colors a bit to the blue to compensate.

    Or

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    44
    Quorthon:

    Well thats why I started this thread so to speak. Was do you guys manually set your Color Balance or always leave it as Auto? I wonder if I should start manually setting mine, or do the D70 owners feel that thats not needed at all and my problem may lie elseware.

    speaklightly:

    I try looking at the pictures in the LCD Just so hard to really tell quality. I have the 'Zoom' button that I use to zoom in on the photo and then move around to check outlines. But that really didnt' show anything until I really got home. Then I noticed it and by then was just to late. Might bring a laptop to this next event and actually try to view some pics during intermission of events. Probably will help a lot and let me make some adjustments.
    Nikon D70

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    1,205
    angle of lighting can really make a differrence as well, especially when you have shadows and sun at extremes. I generally try to take all my pictures with the sun at my back if possible.
    Last edited by Esoterra; 10-18-2005 at 04:05 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    92
    My first impulse was to shoot jpeg with the D70, so I could bypass proprietary software, which is necessary to deal with NikonElectronicFile. But then a friend convinced me to abandon that and shoot RAW and RAW only. Smartest move I ever made. RAW(Nikon's NEF) is truly your second chance, you can fix most any pic once you take it into post. I use both PictureProject and NikonView and like both of them. So, I shoot auto WB and feel confident that, if it ain't right, I can fix it without much trouble.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    296
    Every time I mess with white balance I'm lost! Mainly because I forget to change it back. Color balance (and bad memory) I currently consider my biggest photo nemisis.

    Therefore; have looked into solutions lately and am happy to share:

    Please; if I get something wrong, will someone correct me. I'm more than happy to take all critisism and correct my post. Promise, I won't get defensive and offended .

    CWPhoto; I do hope you don't mind if I paraphrase some of the very helpful advice you've given me on a few of the points below.

    - Carry a gray card. Take a shot of it our put it in the frame from time to time. Also helpful to carry a thick white sheet of paper. Some people pay $100 for a durable set of gray, white, (and some other variations) of cards. A normal 18% gray card costs about $5. When it gets dirty, replace it.

    True gray is right in the middle. Where top is white is 255,255, 255 (RGB), gray is 128, 128, 128 (RGB).

    - Now, put it and the spare in your bag. Get a blackboard and write on it 30 times every night "I will always take a RAW photo of my gray card in every lighting situation". Repeat until you do so when shooting.

    - I've gotten mixed and very convincing and seemingly conflicting instruction to use Gray or White for white balancing. CWPhoto has shot about 1,000 weddings and uses a plain white paper. The guys selling color balancing cards have extensive writeups on usage, as do many photo sites. They sell white and gray. And no, gray is not just for exposure. I'm guessing you can use either depending upon the requirements of your software or the software tool / technique your use.

    Photoshop "Levels" has three little pencil's on the right for setting white, gray, and black points. You can play with them and see how the whole photo changes to compensate.

    - Shoot in RAW if you can. Suggest a 2GB memory card since that will hold a little over 200 shots. I also carry a second one. All RAW processors let you apply corrections made to one photo across all selected photos. They also have a pencil pointer that lets you select one spot as "gray" or "white".

    You can use a warmer white paper if you want warmer colors.

    - If you don't have RAW (and here's what I'm looking for references on) you can apply color and tone adjustments across the 3 spectrums (RGB) to achieve 128, 128, 128 on the spot you selected (the gray card photo). You can then save that photo as "reference" and apply the same adjustments to other photos. Note: There is a way to specify how many pixels your pencil-point has. Select 5x5 so a dead or off pixel doesn't throw out your readings.

    - RSE (Raw Shooter Essentials) is a free program that's nice. Photoshop also has downloads available for each camera to process RAW. Generally, the RAW processor that came with the camera is at least as good as the others.

    - The "color temperture" is a reference to the colors adopted by some material as it gets heated. Some metal I believe. Its not really the temperature of the light. 5,900 it typical sunny day. Your photos look a little blue, so the termerature was probably a little warmer, like 6,200. If you were shooting in RAW, you would just change the slider from "As Shot - 5,900" to "6300" and everything would get warmer. Or just Shift-Click on the white paper and everything will change accordingly. Maybe the program will pick 7,000 or so.

    - Some people actually have a full color pallet they shoot - one they can hold up to the printed image and compare all 120 or so colors. It would follow that there are cheap?? CCD based handheld scanners that would do the comparison electronically - the technology is certianly within easy reach. Or you could flatbed scan them side-by-side to compare. Just to get calibrated of course ... not for every shoot! Photoshop will tell you the exact color composition for comparison. The flatbed scanner has exactly controlled lighting so should be either accurate or at least consistant.

    - Screens also have color balancing issues. What you see is probably not what you get on a non-color balanced screen. Color balancing kits for screens can be purchased if your screen allows for it.

    I like setting my 19" LCD screen extra bright - or on the laptop doing the same. All my printouts came out a little dark. Hmmmmmph!

    CWPhoto suggested taking the sample shots and just adjusting the photos numerically (ie: shutting the window shades and flying by instrument). That way off-monitor doesn't matter because it'll be right in the computer. Good idea.

    - Printers have color profiles. This lets you sync your screen to your printer. I'm guessing the photo printing sites also have them - otherwise how would they ever get things right.

    - Exposure is a similar issue. A technique I've come across is exposing the camera to the open palm of your hand. This is not to be confused with setting white balance.

    - I went so far as to get an "Expodisc" for about $130. It's a special (temporary) filter that lets you point directly at the light source (even the sun!) to capture a true reading. You can use this capture to set your camera to that, then take a shot of your gray card just in case.

    The jury's still out for me on this. Mine is 72mm and any light leakage on the edges severely affects the readings. ie: Its a hassle to remove the lense hood, screw it in, etc. and getting it to work when just holding it to the lense has mixed results .... and I sorely want a 24-105L that is 77mm - that will surely be spot welded to my 20D.

    - I would highly recommend that you learn to use custom white balance on your camera. Since your whole shoot will have the same lighting, letting the camera choose on each shot seems less reliable. However; if the lighting proved inconsistant (partly cloudy etc) you may want to return to auto. If you plan to color correct with software later (in bulk) it may be a mute point. On this; it may depend greatly upon how the color adjustment software works.

    This (software color correcting) is where shooting RAW could be the greatest help since it can go back and change "as if you shot with different color setting". JPEG manipulations must be relative to what you chose. Again; I am entirely ignorant of JPEG color adjustments, but I'd think it would be much easier if all shots had the same baseline of color temperature.

    - Lastly; Your photos look very contrasty in the shadows (dark shadows, washed out lighted areas). That makes the colors a little different. I'm guessing its the bright sunshine. Not sure how to fix that, but it may be part of why the colors appear a little off. Perhaps a filter? Photoshop technique? Anyone?
    Last edited by eastbluffs; 10-18-2005 at 06:56 PM.
    Canon 20D
    Canon Lenses 135L f2.0, 50mm f1.8, 18-55mm kit
    Tamron 28-75 f2.8
    Sigma 70-300 f4 - 5.6 APO DG
    Other 580EX flash, Expodisc, carbon fiber monopod

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    44
    Every time I mess with white balance I'm lost! Mainly because I forget to change it back. Color balance (and bad memory) I currently consider my biggest photo nemisis.

    Heh, I do that with ISO at times... set it to 800 or 1000 and forget to turn it back. So on a nice sunny day, I have some over exposed pictures *G*... Blast my memory too :P

    Thanks for all the input though...Obviously hava to practice some of this :P Print it out and look at some of it this weekend when I get there early and play around a bit! Thanks.

    As far as the Over Washed and Shadowed areas, yes was extremely sunny. Really don't know what to do about that. I might of had more control if I used RAW. I am using nothing but RAW from this point on though. Have messed around with some test shots and the things you can do are amazing. Thanks.
    Nikon D70

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    296
    Quote Originally Posted by eyelab
    Every time I mess with white balance I'm lost! Mainly because I forget to change it back. Color balance (and bad memory) I currently consider my biggest photo nemisis.

    Heh, I do that with ISO at times... set it to 800 or 1000 and forget to turn it back. So on a nice sunny day, I have some over exposed pictures *G*... Blast my memory too :P

    Thanks for all the input though...Obviously hava to practice some of this :P Print it out and look at some of it this weekend when I get there early and play around a bit! Thanks.

    As far as the Over Washed and Shadowed areas, yes was extremely sunny. Really don't know what to do about that. I might of had more control if I used RAW. I am using nothing but RAW from this point on though. Have messed around with some test shots and the things you can do are amazing. Thanks.
    LOL - I've got so many really nice ISO 1600 sunny day photos ... Don't post them because its so obviously a bone head move. Luckly (as I learned today) ISO related noise reduces as lighting is increased. Ha! My camera's timing blinks "8000, 8000, 8000, hey wake up, you are overexposed!" 20 shots later ....

    Yes, RSE has a slider bar for "shadow contrast" and "highlight contrast".

    Photoshop has similar adjustments possible.

    The best solution is probably not shooting into the light as much as possible.

    Regarding your recent focus issues - if you have a fast fps on that camera, you might try a couple runs there you preset focus and when the horse gets to that spot just hold the button for about 10 shots. The sequence will be cool!

    Sorry for the long post (above) - figured I'd lay everything out in one place and let people pick it apart from there.
    Last edited by eastbluffs; 10-18-2005 at 07:27 PM.
    Canon 20D
    Canon Lenses 135L f2.0, 50mm f1.8, 18-55mm kit
    Tamron 28-75 f2.8
    Sigma 70-300 f4 - 5.6 APO DG
    Other 580EX flash, Expodisc, carbon fiber monopod

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    92
    Did someone mention a gray card? Holy KUHHHHH-rap, a gray card! Probably one of the most efficient ways to nail metering, no doubt about it. I have a handful of them, but haven't used one in years. I used to shoot a lot with a YashicaMat 124G TLR (a maginificent medium-format rig)that had a bum meter, so I'd go with a hand-held meter and a gray card, and that combo rarely let me down, it worked great. That was, oh, maybe 6-8-10 years ago.

    Jumping ahead to this day and place, I don't think you need one to be dead-on with D70 metering. I will offer this one observation; as sophisticated as Nikon's matrix metering can be, it can also be easily fooled, which is why I still to this day go with what worked for me all those years ago with film, and that is center-weighted metering, and on rare occasion, spot-metering. And the final thought, I am truly converted, shoot RAW all the time. Cheers...

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