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Posts Tagged ‘white balance’

I quit smoking almost 6 weeks ago. To be honest with you the experience has been horrible. Ever since quitting smoking I’ve wanted to express my current feelings toward cigarettes through my photography. The idea of how to do this has been floating around in the back of my head for weeks. Today was my first attempt to express that emotion. Here are two versions of the photo.


In my mind I always envisioned the photo as black and white, however after playing around with white balance I’m starting to think the colour version with the adjusted white balance actually reflects my emotion to the subject more accurately. Before today when thinking about an image, the question had always been: “Should this image be in colour, black & white or sepia?” However digital has changed that question to: “If this image should be in colour, what colour temperature would portray the emotion of this image best?”

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This past Sunday I needed to bake some bread as we were out. I started baking bread about a year ago when the cost of bread started to get so high. It saves us about $$30-$40 a month, after so long of baking my own bread, my family has become spoilled, and we no longer even like the taste of store bought bread. I was also really aware that of the past 3 posts I have used a photo of my son. While I certainly think he’s one of the best subjects around to take photos of, it can get boring to see photos of the same subject over and over again. So I figured it was a perfect oportunity to photograph the bread making process.

I decided I would take photos of the entire process, much the same way I would if this were a food or baking blog. However what I learned from the process was very interesting. One thing I realized is that people who take great food shoots for their food blogs probably don’t have a very demanding four year old “helping” the entire process, and if they do they must have less clutter in their kitchen than I do. It is hard to get a four year old to wait while you wash your hands between each step and then take photos, they just want to get on with the fun of playing with the sticky dough.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 32mm f/4 1/80, ISO 800

I only got this one shot of the dough after the first rise before my son started rolling it in the flour, so of course I didn’t get a chance to either recompose the shot, or move the empty beer bottles. I even tried to use the blur function in Aperture 3, but it made for a strange line along the counter edge so I couldn’t fix it that way. If anyone knows how to do a decent blur without leaving a funny looking line along the counter edge please let me know.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 42 mm f/4 1/100, ISO 800

While I knew this before, I thought it best to share this tip. Take the time to also take the photo that your child wants you to take. It makes a world of difference in how well they cooperate with what you want to do. He thought the two loaves looked like dinosaur feet, and his arms were the legs.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 28mm f/2.8 1/100, ISO 800

Never trust the back of your camera to check for white balance. I took this with the white balance set to incandescent, when I looked at the back of my camera it looked horrible, but in reviewing the photo on my computer this image is not that far off correct. The bulb looks pure white and after all the bulb was the only light source.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 31mm f2.8 1/80, ISO 1250

The last thing that I of course should have realized but simply didn’t consider is that while making bread takes all afternoon, the sun does not stay in the same place, same intensity, or same colour temerture all afternoon. This photo was taken 2 1/2 hours after the first photo. The first 2 photos worked with the sunny setting, as they were light by window light on a bright sunny day. However by the time this photo was taken the sun had moved, and I didn’t take that into consideration when I took the photo, this was the best white balance I could achieve in post processing.

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Nikon D300 24-70mm @60mm f/2.8 1/100, ISO 800

[Click on photo to enlarge]

I recently posted about my relationship with Aperture 3, soon after I got a google notification that www.kirjaputiikki.fi had republished my article. Well the link love certainly made me feel great, but the real benefit came when I decided to check out that site again yesterday and found a link to this teeth whitening tutorial. I decided to watch the video even though I though I knew how to whiten teeth in Aperture. However the video showed me how to use multiple adjustment brushes. For example you can have an adjustment brush on the highlights/shadows of the photo, and then get another brush to highlights/shadows with different settings for a different part of the photo.

I find it so ironic that the post about me starting to doubt Aperture 3 actually lead to me finding exactly what I needed to make me love it all over again. I don’t do a lot of converting to black and white, but my frustration with white balance (in this post here) lead me to think that perhaps when I can’t get the colour right, that might be a good time to convert to black and white. The teeth whitening video then inspired me to use a brush to put the colour back into the photo selectively. I know the brushing wasn’t perfect, it was really hard to get right around his messy hair. But a friend of mine inspired me last night to experiment with things I haven’t done before, and to not expect the experiments to be perfect, but to be stepping-stones to greater things. The above photo is exactly that, a first time experiment. Thanks Paul.

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When I first started into photography there was no such thing as white balance.  At least not as I understand it now.  I had two choices of film, daylight or tungsten. If you used daylight film with tungsten lighting it was suggested to use the 80B filter, if you used tungsten film in daylight there was a different filter you were supposed to use.  I always bought daylight film as it was the standard and any color adjustments that needed to be done, I basically let the lab take care of. Things have changed.

Now we can set the white balance to match light exactly, so that white is white, 18% grey is 18% grey and black is pure black. When you search the net for “white balance” you will find hundreds of sites explaining that if you want better photos take the white balance setting off automatic and choose one of the presets: Sunny, Shade, Cloudy, tungsten or fluorescent. This advices has not helped me much at all. The only time I get great white balance is under the sunny setting, and occasionally the Shade or Cloudy setting.  The following photo is from almost 2 years ago.  When I took this photo I was upset with the results, and never did anything with it.

[Click on images to enlarge]

Nikon D100 50mm F1.8 1/1000s, ISO 200 - no adjustments

White Balance out of Camera: Shade (6987K, Tint: 10)

Nikon D100 50mm f1.8 1/1000s, ISO 200 - white balance adjusted

White Balance Adjusted: (5207K, Tint: 2)

Now almost 2 years later, after adjusting the white balance (So glad I shot everything is RAW) I like the photo. I know there are many ways in which this photo could be better, the focus is not exactly on the rabbit’s eyes, the framing isn’t the best, and the beach ball is distracting. However looking back at where I was photographically when I took this photo, it’s not a bad photo. However I still don’t understand the white balance.  The rabbit, Monty, is sitting in the shade of my son’s playtable.  Shade has a color temperature of 7000-8000K, which is approximately the white balance of the original photo.  However the more pleasing, and color accurate photo has a color temperature of about 5200K which is equal to late morning or early afternoon sun.  Which is the time of day this photo was taken, but not in direct sun.  Does anyone understand why this is?

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