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Author Topic: white balance  (Read 4678 times)
Don Lapschies
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« on: November 22, 2005, 01:42:21 PM »
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Good day all. I am new to DSLR's so bare with me. Currently, when taking photos I have the white balance set to automatic.  I keep reading about people constantly manually setting the white balance for various shots and they describe a big difference in the photo quality when doing so. Now I know how to set it in the camera manually, but how do you gage the WB in the field? Some say to use a grey card or some white balance card gizmo. I can't do any PP yet so I need to nail it the best I can in the field. I use an E-300 in SHQ jpeg mode (5.5mb files) if that helps any. Thanks in advance, Don
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2005, 03:16:55 PM »
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I can't do any PP yet so I need to nail it the best I can in the field. I use an E-300 in SHQ jpeg mode (5.5mb files) if that helps any. Thanks in advance, Don
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Why no post processing?  If the price of CS2 is the problem, there are other lower cost (some free) alternatives.  Post processing is needed for more than correcting color balance.

Most discussion of shooting a gray card is based on subsequent processing of the RAW file to match the neutrality of the gray card.  Whibal from [a href=\"http://www.rawworkflow.com/]http://www.rawworkflow.com/[/url] is a good choice.

If you have no option re post processing, (and I'm not familiar specifically with the e-300) the normal process, providing it's supported by the camera with a custom whitebalance function, is to shoot the gray card in a specific lighting situation via the custom whitebalance menu, then activate custom white balance for the shots - which apply only in that specific lighting circumstance.
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ctgardener
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2005, 03:21:04 PM »
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Good day all. I am new to DSLR's so bare with me. Currently, when taking photos I have the white balance set to automatic.  I keep reading about people constantly manually setting the white balance for various shots and they describe a big difference in the photo quality when doing so. Now I know how to set it in the camera manually, but how do you gage the WB in the field? Some say to use a grey card or some white balance card gizmo. I can't do any PP yet so I need to nail it the best I can in the field. I use an E-300 in SHQ jpeg mode (5.5mb files) if that helps any. Thanks in advance, Don
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51939\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

For nature photography, one approach you could take is to set WB to daylight ... after all, we pretty much loved the shots we got back from daylight balanced film (though we warmed them up a bit once in a while).  I almost always shoot on Auto WB, though I'll sometimes change to a manual setting under incandescant lighting, since my camera (and many others) leave it too warm.  For my nature photography, I almost always do RAW conversions, so the camera WB settings is irrelevant.  WB is important for photographers who want good out-of-camera (or batch-processed) images because they deal in volume.  A couple hundred wedding photographs on Saturday, a couple hundred more on Sunday, as opposed to one fine art shot that deserves hours of your time to perfect.  

Finally, even if you want to control WB to get good out-of-camera results, manual or auto WB isn't always ideal for nature photography because you don't want to neutralize morning or evening colors.  

- Dennis
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ctgardener
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2005, 03:23:10 PM »
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Why no post processing?  If the price of CS2 is the problem, there are other lower cost (some free) alternatives.  Post processing is needed for more than correcting color balance.

Missed that part ... Raw Shooter Essentials is a free RAW converter that would let you adjust WB after the fact ... anyway, the manual adjustments described by Tim are probably fine, but that assumes you want your whites white and your grays gray  

- Dennis
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boku
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2005, 05:57:40 PM »
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I hope you are good natured enough to take this in jest...

You want me to "bare" with you?

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I am new to DSLR's so bare with me. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51939\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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Bob Kulon

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Play it Straight and Play it True, my Brother.
jdemott
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2005, 06:57:33 PM »
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Don,

Part of your confusion may be due to terminology--what is meant by manual white balance?  On many digital cameras (including yours I think) there are two ways to set WB manually--one is to manually select a predetermined setting like "cloudy" (which may have an associated color temperature like 6000K) and the second is to perform a manual preset operation that involves the use of a gray or white card.  Obviously, the first is simpler and the second is usually more precise.  If you are selecting a predetermined setting, a good rule of thumb is to remember that most people will generally prefer a photo that has warm tones over one that has cool tones.  So if you are debating between "daylight" and "cloudy," pick cloudy because it will result in a warmer tone photo.  Likewise, "shade" will be warmer still.  Of course, if you want cool tones in your photo, the advice is reversed.

The reason to do a WB preset is because the actual color temperature is seldom as easily predictable as just selecting "daylight" or "cloudy."  The preset function in effect uses the camera's auto WB abilities, but with a very important difference.  When you use the "auto" setting while taking a photo, the camera can be confused if the scene you are photographing has a strong color cast.  The camera is trying to figure out what the lighting is like based on what it "sees" thorough the lens, but it doesn't know whether it is looking at something that is supposed to be red or blue or whatever.  (For that reason, a few cameras have a second WB sensor on top of the camera that only looks at the color of the ambient light.)  When you do a WB preset, you put a known neutral colored object (a white or gray card) in front of the lens (exposed to the same light source as your photographic subject) and ask the camera to compute an auto white balance that it will use until you make a further change.  Since the camera's WB sensor can't be confused by the color of what it "sees," a WB preset is usually the most accurate way to set WB, assuming that you want perfectly neutral color.  See your camera's manual for specific instructions on how to do a manual preset.

As others have noted, when taking landscape shots around dawn and dusk, you often want to have a very warm appearance to the photo to give the feeling of the light at that time of day.  If you use a preset WB or set the WB to daylight, your photo will likely appear cooler in tone than you  would like.

I second the comments made by others that you really should try one of the free or inexpensive RAW converters and shoot some photos in RAW mode.  For many or most of your shots, the auto WB setting will be just fine.  For those occasions when the auto setting is inappropriate, you simply move a slider in the RAW conversion program until the color suits your taste.
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John DeMott
Don Lapschies
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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2005, 01:36:10 PM »
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Thanks people. Very informative and helpful. I'm still using a Pentium 90 at home, yes I mean 90 not 900! with a whopping 850 MB, not Gb, Maxtor hard drive! I spend most of our available cash training our son for future Olympic games. I have a good set-up at work but I'm not aloud to install the Olympus cd. So Im currently stuck doing the best I can in camera and printing off a Kodak terminal at my local Future Shop store. Thanks again, Don.
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