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Thread: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

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    White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    How often do you "re-zero" your white balance? I was on my way home froma camping trip with frends this past sunday when I saw what I thought was an awesome cloudy "sunset" (sun was dropping behind mountains). I stopped to capture some photos. I had on a ND4 and UV filters(this was my first time using the ND4 filter). I noticed all the photos were very heavy on the blue more so than when I was useing the same filter set in brighter day time photos. I "re-zeroed" the white balance and then kept shooting. The photos after the re-zeroing were much more "realistic" as compared to my eyes view. I will try to remember to post a sample of the photos when I get home from work.

    Or is this a function of not knowing what the filter does to the photos? Any help and ideas? thanks.

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Cannot help with the WB issue, But i can tell you an ND4 introduces a 2 stop reduction in the light reaching the sensor
    (useful to allow slower shutter speeds in bright daylight for long exposures)

    Personally i shoot in RAW and always use auto WB, it can easily be corrected in post (useful for myself who has only been in to photography for a few weeks)

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    How often do you "re-zero" your white balance? I was on my way home froma camping trip with frends this past sunday when I saw what I thought was an awesome cloudy "sunset" (sun was dropping behind mountains). I stopped to capture some photos. I had on a ND4 and UV filters(this was my first time using the ND4 filter). I noticed all the photos were very heavy on the blue more so than when I was useing the same filter set in brighter day time photos. I "re-zeroed" the white balance and then kept shooting. The photos after the re-zeroing were much more "realistic" as compared to my eyes view. I will try to remember to post a sample of the photos when I get home from work.

    Or is this a function of not knowing what the filter does to the photos? Any help and ideas? thanks.
    Daniel - you have to understand what adjusting the white balance, custom white balance (CWB) does for you and if you are shooting a sunset, it may (and probably is) the last thing you want to do. On the other hand, if you are shooting pictures of people at sunset, then you want to do a custom white balance quite frequently as the colour temperature shift quickly as the sun gets closer to the horizon. This only matters if you are shooting jpegs, as white balance has no impact on RAW images.

    If you are shooting the sunset, then using a daylight colour will give your images those nice warm tones you are looking for. If you do a CWB, your camera will set the "correct" colour balance based on the lower colour temperature in the scene and the image will be more neutral and might even seem a bit cool. Try playing around with your presets to see which one works out best. If on the other hand, you are shooting portraits, the CWB will be very important (and golden hour really is nice for portraiture as the light is very soft and diffuse), otherwise your skin tones will look rather strange with strong warm colour casts. In that situation, I would redo your CWB every few minutes. If you are shooting video, this is also important and as there is no RAW, getting white balance right is quite important.

    The other consideration could be your ND filter. This could have a colour cast in it that could be affecting your results as well. ND filters are sometimes deliberately made with a colour cast or you could have one that is just not neutral, so that is worth checking out as well.

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    . . . I saw what I thought was an awesome cloudy "sunset" (sun was dropping behind mountains). I stopped to capture some photos. I had on a ND4 and UV filters(this was my first time using the ND4 filter). I noticed all the photos were very heavy on the blue more so than when I was useing the same filter set in brighter day time photos. I "re-zeroed" the white balance and then kept shooting. The photos after the re-zeroing were much more "realistic" as compared to my eyes view. . .Or is this a function of not knowing what the filter does to the photos? Any help and ideas? thanks.
    The BLUE is most likely a function of the COLOUR TEMPERATURE of OUTDOOR SUNLIGHT changing across the daylight hours and a function of the LATITUDE of the location and also the TIME OF YEAR.

    This link (another exceptional learning tool from CiC) will assist your understanding: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...calculator.htm

    If your images were heavily BLUE then the sunlight could have been approaching DUSK.

    Regarding the ND filter – it could have a colour cast, but I think the Blue will be the Colour Temperature of the Sunlight at that time of day.

    ALSO . . . perhaps an effect of the Clouds and or reflection of any water on the earth was an additive to that blue you captured.

    ***

    For your particular shot, just on sunset and a cloudy sky, there could be some sophisticated arguments for using a manual white balance or at least adjusting the WB of the cameras to something approximating a ‘correct’ white balance: that is because when the light is so excessively blue (in your case) or excessively red (in the case of very low level incandescent room light), if we adjust the WB in camera to something close to the actual Colour Temperature of the light there is less fiddling later in Post Production – but AWB would have certainly sufficed and I probably would have used AWB for that shot as you described.

    +++

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    How often do you "re-zero" your white balance?
    Only when necessary.

    For example:

    When it is necessary to record accurately the colours an item, such as artwork or when it is necessary to keep the colour consistent throughout a series of different lighting scenarios – a typical situation would be a group of Girls in different dresses, where the dress colour is important, Like the B’Maids and Mums at a Wedding or Function.

    Also when shooting under low level interior domestic lights.

    When shooting (the same) Portraiture under two or more different lighting scenarios in one session.

    I also shoot raw + JPEG (L), so I have Plan B – that being that if I do use AWB (auto White Balance) I can control the WB in Post Production, if necessary.

    WW

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    I usually shoot with auto WB and correct in PP if needed (not too often for most of what I do).

    In some situations I prefer setting a WB, mostly when I want to capture certain light conditions.
    For instance, shooting dance on scene with a lot of colour effects in the lighting, I used tungsten WB. Auto WB seems to get in trouble there. And it gives me a constant base to work from, and is easy enough to adjust if needed. (Note to self, reset to AWB afterwards...) As I shoot Raw all the time, it's more a question of comfort than anything else. But, (judging from the preview images) it would make an important difference when shooting jpg, to get a constant base linking the photos (no idea how to express this better).

    And for really critical work, you'll have to use a reference chart (white balance, colour or both) and work from there (either by setting a custom WB or adjusting in PP).

    Remco

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    But, (judging from the preview images) it would make an important difference when shooting jpg, to get a constant base linking the photos (no idea how to express this better).
    Do you mean if one is shooting JPEG only and using the images on the camera's LCD as a preview and a guide - then setting a Custom White Balance to ensure the Preview Images appear as close as possible to the Final Image, is a good idea.

    WW

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    I always use RAW and, at Donald's advice, I bought and frequently use a WhiBal card and auto white balance.

    http://www.amazon.com/GENUINE-WhiBal...words=expodisc

    I was originally too cheap to spend the money on a WhiBal card but, now that I have one, I really like it.

    http://www.whibalhost.com/_Tutorials.../01/index.html

    You might, however, just shoot the image you have described in RAW and auto white balance and then play with the image until you see a rendition that you like.

    The shots in which I consider accurate white balance the most important are ones which include skin tones.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 23rd October 2012 at 10:55 PM.

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    If one is shooting RAW (which is often necessary with sunset shots due to the high dynamic range the scenes contain) then it doesn't matter what white balance is set on the camera because RAW files don't have a white balance per se (this is something that needs to be done in post-production). The white balance you select on the camera is only applied to the in-camera JPEG that you see on the review screen.

    There are two types of white balancing; "technically correct" and "visually correct". As an example, in the studio - if I take a photo of a model to be printed on a canvas and hung on a wall then I want it to be "technically correct" - ie I want to compensate for the colour temperature of the lighting so that skin tones look normal when the photo is viewed under normal lighting conditions. On the other hand, if I were to white balance a sunset so that it was technically correct, I'd be nulling out the colours of the setting sun, and it would look awful - so it that situation "visually correct" is the way to go.

    So what is "visually correct"? Easy - you simply adjust it in post-production so that it looks it's best - it's as easy as that.

    If you're shooting sunsets using JPEG then all you can do is dial in a colour temperature that gives you the look you're after (if you can do this using live view then it'll make the process much faster).

    Hope this helps

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Do you mean if one is shooting JPEG only and using the images on the camera's LCD as a preview and a guide - then setting a Custom White Balance to ensure the Preview Images appear as close as possible to the Final Image, is a good idea.

    WW
    No, most certainly not, that would be rather dangerous.
    I was referring to using preset WB settings on camera and judging by what I saw afterwards in PP, where I see the embedded (preview) jpgs from the RAW. I don't think I've ever used a custom WB (i.e. shoot a target and let the camera determine the WB from that)

    I shoot RAW only (unless I really need jpgs NOW), so all I have to judge the effect are the embedded jpg's (which afaik get the same treatment as would have gotten full-size, separate jpgs).
    What I've seen there is, that setting a fixed WB gives a more homogeneous feel to the series of images from a given scene.

    Given the lighting conditions I mentioned (scene with coloured, and changing, spotlights) auto WB gives too much variation, and I don't see any way to get a reliable custom WB setting (other than dial in a colour temperature, but which?). That leaves the fixed WB settings, and there tungsten seems the closest to 'correct'.

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    How often do you "re-zero" your white balance?
    NEVER. For me, it's not worth the bother.

    I shoot RAW, and change the WB in PP to suit the image - I call it creativity.

    My cameras are both set at Auto WB, and both have their contrast setting at minus 3 (which gets the bright/clipping side of the in-camera histogram quite close to the reality of the RAW file so I seldom blow the highlights.

    I use my "eye" and experience to adjust colour, vibrance/saturation, white balance, and all the other useful adjustments.

    Incidentally, I only use the LCD to check the histogram.

    Other people's mileage may vary.

    Glenn

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    re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    I was referring to . . . etc.
    Understood.
    Thanks for clarifying.
    The words seemed not too difficult to find, at all.

    WW

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    I found that white balance is very important to how an image looks. Another way of describing White balance is "Temperature". And, you can make the image change its look the way you want it to be, not necessarily what your camera chooses as "correct". If you have a night scene, or a few minutes after sunset, try using "tungsten" for a cool all blue look!
    Shoot in Raw and then play with the temperature adjustment bar in Camera Raw. Remember, too, you can use the white balance tool in ACR. Its icon looks like an eye-dropper which you then click on an area that looks white or middle grey in your image.

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If one is shooting RAW (which is often necessary with sunset shots due to the high dynamic range the scenes contain) then it doesn't matter what white balance is set on the camera because RAW files don't have a white balance per se (this is something that needs to be done in post-production). The white balance you select on the camera is only applied to the in-camera JPEG that you see on the review screen.

    There are two types of white balancing; "technically correct" and "visually correct". As an example, in the studio - if I take a photo of a model to be printed on a canvas and hung on a wall then I want it to be "technically correct" - ie I want to compensate for the colour temperature of the lighting so that skin tones look normal when the photo is viewed under normal lighting conditions. On the other hand, if I were to white balance a sunset so that it was technically correct, I'd be nulling out the colours of the setting sun, and it would look awful - so it that situation "visually correct" is the way to go.

    So what is "visually correct"? Easy - you simply adjust it in post-production so that it looks it's best - it's as easy as that.

    If you're shooting sunsets using JPEG then all you can do is dial in a colour temperature that gives you the look you're after (if you can do this using live view then it'll make the process much faster).

    Hope this helps
    Do you have photos for an example of how to dial in the color temp when using JPEG? I have looked at the tutorial linked by William W, but I still am a little confused on the process. I am sure if I could see an example on how to do this for sunsets it would really sink in and I would be really grateful. I am also more interested in "visually correct" images.

    I don’t shoot in RAW yet as I don’t have a PP program. I guess a PP program is the next thing on the radar, I am looking into Lightroom.

    I also think I need to learn where my AWB feature is on my camera. Looks like I get to play with my camera again. :-D

    I also learned a very valuable lesson in the value of a photo log, I went back to try to upload some photos and I could not remember what photos were before WB adjustments and what photos had the filters. I now have a log book in my camera bag.

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I always use RAW and, at Donald's advice, I bought and frequently use a WhiBal card and auto white balance.

    http://www.amazon.com/GENUINE-WhiBal...words=expodisc

    I was originally too cheap to spend the money on a WhiBal card but, now that I have one, I really like it.

    http://www.whibalhost.com/_Tutorials.../01/index.html

    You might, however, just shoot the image you have described in RAW and auto white balance and then play with the image until you see a rendition that you like.

    The shots in which I consider accurate white balance the most important are ones which include skin tones.
    I think I will be getting one of these cards as soon as I can, thanks for the link.

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    Do you have photos for an example of how to dial in the color temp when using JPEG? I have looked at the tutorial linked by William W, but I still am a little confused on the process. I am sure if I could see an example on how to do this for sunsets it would really sink in and I would be really grateful. I am also more interested in "visually correct" images.

    I don’t shoot in RAW yet as I don’t have a PP program. I guess a PP program is the next thing on the radar, I am looking into Lightroom.

    I also think I need to learn where my AWB feature is on my camera. Looks like I get to play with my camera again. :-D

    I also learned a very valuable lesson in the value of a photo log, I went back to try to upload some photos and I could not remember what photos were before WB adjustments and what photos had the filters. I now have a log book in my camera bag.
    Short answer, NO, I'm afraid. Reason being that (a) I only shoot RAW and (b) I have a post-production program (Photoshop).

    Lightroom will allow you to adjust JPEG white balance - but - from a technical point of view, adjusting the white balance of a JPEG shot degrades the image whereas it doesn't when adjusting a RAW capture. Whether of not the degradation of a JPEG is visually apparent is another story though (depends on a number of factors).

    My advice is to get (at a minimum) Lightroom - and start shooting RAW. That way you can losslessly adjust white balance to whatever you prefer afterwards.

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    I don’t shoot in RAW yet as I don’t have a PP program. I guess a PP program is the next thing on the radar, I am looking into Lightroom.
    Which camera are you using? Most Nikon, and all Canon SLR's come with a software that will allow you to process RAW images before you save them.

    If cost is the issue, I know many members on C in C use GIMP, which is a free download, and with a simple plugin download, you can edit RAW files as well.

    I think this would be your absolute starting point - as Colin says, shooting RAW is just a must, and makes it soooo much easier to deal with afterwards.

    PS - totally off topic, can I pick your brain about hydration for long-distance running sometime? I've hit a bit of a block in my training, and can't seem to get past it! Thanks!

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Danimal View Post
    Do you have photos for an example of how to dial in the color temp when using JPEG? I have looked at the tutorial linked by William W, but I still am a little confused on the process. I am sure if I could see an example on how to do this for sunsets it would really sink in and I would be really grateful. I am also more interested in "visually correct" images.
    (...)
    In addition to what the others said,
    If you mean setting a WB while shooting, your camera's manual describes how to do it, and what options are available.And while you can't use the camera's LCD screen for precise checking, it will tell you gross errors, like using tungsten WB outdoors, or cloudy WB in tungsten light.

    And there are several free open source programs available for RAW development and PP, most under Linux, but also under MS-windows.
    Last edited by revi; 27th October 2012 at 08:38 AM.

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    This only matters if you are shooting jpegs, as white balance has no impact on RAW images.
    If you are shooting the sunset, then using a daylight colour will give your images those nice warm tones you are looking for.
    I do not understand this statement. How do you explain the difference in these two pictures.
    Both shot in RAW. Time difference - a few seconds.

    White balance set to manual - in the lower Kelvin temp. range
    White Balance -  Do you need to readjust it often?

    White balance set to manual - in the higher Kelvin temp. range
    White Balance -  Do you need to readjust it often?

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    I do not understand this statement. How do you explain the difference in these two pictures.
    Both shot in RAW. Time difference - a few seconds.

    (...)
    But what you see before developing the RAW image in PP is a JPEG produced from the raw, and that is made using the WB settings you specified. Also, most raw developing programs read the WB setting from the metadata and can apply that one when first converting the file. (They have to use a WB setting, so until the user says otherwise, most use the camera setting).

    The RAW data part is not influenced by the WB setting. The same way some/most of the 'scene' settings, that most cameras offer, only affect the JPEGs produced, not the RAW data.

    Basically, the RAW data is the data as they come from the sensor. The sensor just captures the incoming light, and knows nothing about colours. Sensibility for R, G, and B doesn't even have to be the same. That means that to produce a 'natural' looking image the balance between the three colour channels has to be corrected, for several reasons. One of those reasons is the colour of the light illuminating the scene, and the correction for that is what we call white balance. But all those corrections are done only when producing a image for display, i.e. when creating the embedded JPEG or in post-production.

    So if you take the two RAW images above, and convert them with exactly the same manual settings in your RAW program (colour temperature and green correction for starters), you should get two images that are very close in tone. Be careful not to use the camera settings here!

    Remco

    P.S. I have actually managed to take pictures outdoors (in slightly overcast weather) with camera WB on tungsten... The previews were 'a bit' on the blue side... But developing with a decent value for the WB gave the proper colours and no degradation in image quality.
    Trying to correct something like that in a JPEG is less attractive, as you have to multiply the (8-bit) values for two channels when correcting a WB. That means you can easily lose dynamic range, and can get posterisation. In RAW, the native data are 12 or 14 bits, and intermediate treatment is often in 16 bits, so you have lots more data to play with and don't risk blowing out a channel through a white balance correction.
    Last edited by revi; 27th October 2012 at 11:58 AM.

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    Re: White Balance - Do you need to readjust it often?

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    I do not understand this statement. How do you explain the difference in these two pictures.
    Both shot in RAW. Time difference - a few seconds.
    I'm assuming that either the camera settings and/or the processing is identical for both images.

    I've found that occasionally when I take a series of images for a focus stack, that are closely spaced in time, and obviously with the identical subject and subject distance and framing, that one image will be exposed a couple of stops different than the others. It is not uncommon to use ten or more images when focus stacking.

    Why is one image exposed differently? The only thing I can think of is that the camera had what we sometimes call a "brain f***".

    Even the most precise instruments produce results with some degree of variation. Electronics are susceptible to this too.

    Glenn

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