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Thread: Why am I always "red?"

  1. #1
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    Why am I always "red?"

    While shooting in Manual Mode, I choose my aperature, focus and tune in my exposure scale to get the right shutter speed, peg the scale in the middle, ISO at 200. Snap the picture and each and every time, it comes out too red. I've checked all my menu settings and all are appropriate. It's maddening and I am tempted to go back to Auto Mode. I'd appreciate any ideas! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    Could you post an example, so we can have a look-see?

    Do you have the WB settings correct for the exposure your trying, or is the custom WB shift set to Amber at all?

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    Hi Gerita and welcome to CiC. Try shooting the same scene in Manual mode and in Auto (with a fixed ISO at 200). Compare the EXIF data for both images and see what is dramatically different between the two. That should narrow your search for the cause.

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    Hi Gerita,

    What camera do you use? Might help to know.

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    The settings you mention generally have little to do with incorrect color balance. (There are exceptions, but I doubt they are relevant here.) I'll be the cause is something else. Frank's suggestion for isolating the cause is an excellent one.

    Also, when you say it appears too red, too red on what? On a computer monitor? If so, viewed with which program?

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    I am assuming that you are shooting in JPEG... What white balance have you selected? When you are "too red"; is it outdoors or indoors or both? If you tell us which camera you are shooting with, I am sure there would be somebody familiar with that camera, or at least that brand of camera, who can help you...

    I know that this sounds heretical but, there are more postings from people who are shooting in manual who are having problems than those who use other modes with the possible excepton of Automatic.

    I don't like automatic because it takes all the control away from the photographer. However, the modified automatic settings such a programmed, shutter speed priority and aperture priority will provide very acceptable results in the majority of the cases. You can monitor and adjust your exposure while shooting in these modes.

    As far as color balance goes, I always shoot in auto white balance (AWB) and use the RAW capture. I will frequently include a color target and balance my color on that target. If you are using Photoshop Elements - even in JPEG capture, you can adjust the color pretty automatically in editing by choosing ENHANCE, ADJUST COLOR, REMOVE COLOR CAST and then use the eye dropper tool to select a portion of your image which is white. I use a WhiBal target to adjust my color but a white index card included in one frame of every group of pictures will also do the trick. Heck, I often use the white coats of my Maltese dogs as a target, You can adjust the color for this one image and carry over the adjustments to the rest of the images you shot under the same lighting.

    The cases in which manual is far better is when you are shooting for panos and when you are shooting with studio flash.

    Often photographers will use manual exposure on their camera combined with automatic flash exposure (such as Canon's ETTL) to great effect.

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    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    Hi, Gerita;

    Well, as everyone here is saying, I can't help but agree that setting the correct white balance for a camera isn't as simple as the automated settings would have us believe! Even when using an automated white balance setting, things can go very very wrong if there is more than one light source involved because they might all need a different white balance: flash, standard light bulbs, floodlights, florescent, sunlight; they can all be a part of the lighting of a scene!

    Here I am this past May before shooting a local fashion show (by request), getting a reference shot with a standardized color scale using the lighting I will be dealing with during the show so that I can accurately set the color balance of all the photos I take during the course of the show:

    Why am I always "red?"

    I have a Nikon D700 which is a fabulous camera but I still don't trust it to set my color balance for critical work. That's something I need to do myself.

    It would be false to say that color balance is an issue that arose with digital cameras, because even with film cameras photographers had to pick the type of film that matched the lighting they would be using. most commercial film was set for daylight but there were also professional films that were designed for a white balance that matched specific kinds of studio lights, which were very different than daylight.

    If you want to go right back to the very basics, the color of light comes from the electron shells of atoms: when an atom absorbs energy, its electrons push out into a wider sphere; and when they lose that energy, and the electron shells shrink closer to the atom, a specific wavelength (the difference between the wider and smaller electron shell) is released as light.

    Every atom has a specific set of energy shells it can release light from, as specific colors; and the energy that these atoms absorb and release is described as temperature. So color temperature determines the range of colors we are dealing with, and white balance means the middle of any such range; that is, the way we would have to shift the range of colors available so that we found the color white right in the middle.

    It is pretty complicated and it isn't difficult to do something other than exactly what is needed to get it perfectly right! But different cameras go about it in different ways, and most have lots of subtle little settings that can shift colors around significantly. If, for instance, your camera has had its manual white balance set to favor florescent lighting then it might just make every other kind of lighting look a little reddish. There are lots and lots of different things it might be but I think that someone or other would be able to figure it out for you if we had a little more information to work with.

    Chances are, at least one person here has had whatever is happening to your camera happen with theirs before!

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    WOW! Thanks, Everyone! I received great, helpful advise and I will continue to figure it out with all of your suggestions. Sorry, if I failed to list critical information; this is my first post and again, it's all about learning. My camera: Canon EOS T2i. The "red" usually happens when snapping indoor pictures with overhead ceiling and lamp lighting. The red is apparant on the print, the camera lcd and the computer, so, it's definitely there. I will double check my WB and do the other great ideas. Appreciate It! Gerita (Jer rita)

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    Now that we have your explanation of the light source, it's clear that the white balance is probably the problem. My guess is that your overhead and lamp lighting are incandescent. If you're using Auto White Balance, that setting on your camera is not very effective. (More recent camera models have more effective Auto White Balance than older models, at least in my experience, and I don't know the age of your camera model.) If I'm right about the incandescent lighting and if you have your white balance set to one of the daylight settings, that combination would produce a strong reddish or orangish cast.

    Try changing your white balance setting to Auto White Balance (if it wasn't already set that way) or to the Incandescent White Balance.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 18th August 2012 at 06:56 PM.

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    Re: Why am I always "red?"

    Hi, Jer rita;

    Many large indoor venues will use halogen bulbs in their ceiling fixtures, because these throw a lot of light. They also have a color temperature of around 3200-3500 degrees Kelvin... which is about the color temperature of the sun at sunrise or sunset. At midday, when it is cutting through the least amount of atmosphere, the sun has a color temperature more like 5500 degrees Kelvin. If your white balance is set to daylight, with that as it's midpoint, then anything above it in color temperature will look bluish and anything below will look reddish. Normal incandescent bulbs (like those used in the home) will throw a light that looks very yellowish but halogen bulbs will throw a light that looks very distinctly reddish in color.

    Florescent lighting is usually up around 6000+ degrees Kelvin, so a white balance set that high or higher will tinge pretty much anything toward the red end of the spectrum (normal incandescent bulbs included). But, a white balance set that high will also bring out more of the pinks and other subtle hues in the sky at sunrise and sunset ;-)

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