A&P Huge Noob Question here, but I'm not afraid to ask it.

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by Jbrown, May 26, 2009.

  1. Jbrown

    Jbrown OT Supporter

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    I've been shooting off and on for a year and still do not actually understand white balance.


    I pretty much know what a pic looks like when it's wrong, I just don't understand how to set it while shooting. People say to set it to a card, but what if it's kinda dark, wont that affect the custom WB?


    Maybe one of you pros can explain to me how you do it or understand it.


    I know i'm not the only one that doesn't actually get it. :o


    Thanks
     
  2. Run N. Gun

    Run N. Gun Active Member

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    .

    I'm also interested in the response. Thanks!
     
  3. adamlewis88

    adamlewis88 New Member

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    White balance is just the factor thats sometimes needed to correct light that is predominantly some color other than white.

    Take for example sodium lighting. Its really orange and nasty. By using a 'cool' white balance (2500~3500k) the camera will process the pictures with more bias towards the blues. It tries to cancel out the orange hue of what else is there.

    If you set your camera on tungsten, and take pictures of scenes that have mostly white light, youll see that almost all the pictures have a blue tinge to them. However, get into yellowish tungsten light, and youll see that now your pictures look 'normal'

    The same goes for shady or cloudy days where the ambient light can have a cool hue to it. By setting your camera to the overcast/cloudy/shadow WB mode, it actually processes the pictures with a bias towards the reds/oranges/yellows (or the more 'warmer' tones).

    Make sense?
     
  4. adamlewis88

    adamlewis88 New Member

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    A 'correct' WB will give you whites that have the same RGB value across the board. No single channel shows dominance.

    However, you can also play with WB to simply achieve a desired look. You may want your picture to appear cooler or warmer than normal depending on what youre doing.
     
  5. adamlewis88

    adamlewis88 New Member

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    Its also worth mentioning that sometimes not all whites can be (or even SHOULD be) fixed to 'pure white' in post. A lot of times, whites may be lit by reflections of some other thing near your subject.

    For example, a lot of my basketball pictures will show players with white jerseys to have a red tinge to them. Its not because my WB is off but its because of the light being reflected off the red paint on the floor.
     
  6. Jbrown

    Jbrown OT Supporter

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    Makes sense. But how should I set it while shooting looking for the "normal" look? Should I set it to the built in WB settings, or always do a custom one?
     
  7. adamlewis88

    adamlewis88 New Member

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    Different people will say different things. If you shoot JPG, and youve got weird lighting, Id try to set a custom WB. However, custom WB's are only helpful so long as the color/temp of your light source remains constant.

    I personally shoot raw and have never taken my camera off of AWB. Not only do I find AWB to do the trick about 85% of the time, but so long as youre shooting raw, you can always change the WB to whatever you want before conversion to JPG/TIFF/whatever
     
  8. adamlewis88

    adamlewis88 New Member

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  9. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    Adam is correct in what he's saying, but i'll add to it a bit.

    Setting a custom white balance for your shoot, or even shooting with a card in your shot as a way to set your white balance to a custom level in post processing is a good practice to get into.

    The first way to do it is by choosing the 'custom WB' feature in your camera, and shooting a pure white surface. Even a plain piece of copy paper will work for this. Your camera takes this image, removes all trace of color in the image, and then applies those changes to all images you shoot while using this setting. So, if you have a blue lightbulb on your white paper and shoot it, your camera will remove all traces of blue in order to get the paper back to white. Get it?

    Custom white balance in post processing is done by using a 'grey card'. This card is a perfectly neutral grey color, so when you include this in the image, the card will have a hue or color shift, giving the card a color, instead of making it grey. Once you are in post, you would select the custom white balance eye-dropper, and select the card. This eye dropper does exactly what your camera does, and removes all traces of color from the grey card, then applies those settings to all other images.

    This does not affect brightness at all, so it doesn't matter where the grey card is in the luminosity scale, as long as it retains detail.

    For me, it makes much more sense to choose an appropriate wb setting in your camera to get close, but then to tweak and dial in the wb in your post processing. I don't like to set and live by the custom white balance in the camera, but I probably would use it if I were shooting in situations where I knew the light would not unexpectadly change on me. Usually 'auto' does a well enough job that i'm able to dial it in during post.

    Also, the custom white balance eye dropper is really just a button that removes color from an area and uses that formula to adjust the entire image, without touching luminosity... So, you can click on a white or black object and have VERY similar results as you would get if you used a grey card. I'll often just use the brides dress or grooms shirt or tux to create my custom white balance point. Works awesome.

    Oh, and don't be afraid to stray from what the white balance tells you. It's all subjective. I rarely ever really want a perfectly flat, colorless light in my images. I use the color of the light to affect the mood of the image. So I'll set the custom white balance, then tweak it and add warm or cool tones to get the image to where I want it to go...

    Questions? Comments?
     
  10. Jbrown

    Jbrown OT Supporter

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    Thanks you two, makes much more sense now. :big grin:
     
  11. tenplanescrashing

    tenplanescrashing Active Member

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    This subject, like with a lot of photography, is debatable. I find it much easier to fix WB in post product than try to figure it out while shooting. If you have the time to do so, learn it. If you don't and would rather get the shot, worry about it at PP.

    But cameras can't "see" white and black...they see the variations based on 18% gray, which is considered a neutral "color".

    I'll tell you this...all the years i've been shooting, i've never adjusted my WB outside of Auto. :dunno:
     
  12. Mutombo

    Mutombo New Member

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    I also shoot in raw and fix WB in post.
     
  13. itchypony

    itchypony New Member

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    Taken from Adorama

    One question that comes up often is that of White Balance and personally, I shoot 99% of my images in CLOUDY, when outdoors, 24/7, even if it's a sunny day. The CLOUDY WB setting offers up a richer, warmer overall feel to the image. But when I shoot at dusk, I will often switch over to the TUNGSTEN WB setting, and shoot an exposure or two. Than I can compare how the much deeper and richer dusky blue sky that results from shooting in the TUNGSTEN WB setting impacts the overall composition.

    Granted if you are shooting in RAW format and forget to try out the Tungsten setting, you can always change it in post-processing, but for those of you shooting ONLY in JPEG format this is the time to try both Cloudy and Tungsten WB settings. The TUNGSTEN WB setting is also called INCANDESCENT by some camera mfgs. and its WB symbol is indicated by that "lightbulb" symbol in your WB Menu.
     
  14. DRAIGON

    DRAIGON New Member

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    I use an expo disc.
     
  15. DRAIGON

    DRAIGON New Member

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  16. DRAIGON

    DRAIGON New Member

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    Take a photo at proper exposure through the disc, then set that photo as desired custom white balance. Thats how I do it on the fly.
     
  17. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    thats pretty neat.
     
  18. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

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    great thread.


    God I love OTAP...
     
  19. Jbrown

    Jbrown OT Supporter

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    I knew I would not be only one who didn't really get it :o
     
  20. Keiphus

    Keiphus my dog eats bears

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    I can see taking the time to setup a custom WB if you're doing a set of studio like shoots where your lighting / circumstances aren't changing... for me personally I do more snapshot like stuff all over the place (more personal documentary) so setting a WB is just a waste of time and I can fix it all in post.
     
  21. tenplanescrashing

    tenplanescrashing Active Member

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    ex fucking zactly
     
  22. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    Yeah, fuck all that. I mean if you're just taking snapshots, you minus whale just shoot in normal jpg mode and save yourself some space while you're at it, amirite?
     
  23. Keiphus

    Keiphus my dog eats bears

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    No because then I can't WB as easily :fawk:
     

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