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Thread: 450D White Balance

  1. #1

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    450D White Balance

    Hi All,

    Ok let's see what happens with this, have just been out around the garden with the Canon, the pictures are quite good but what I'm wondering is which White Balance setting should be used when everywhere is covered in snow ?

    Cheers,

    Nick

  2. #2

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Snow itself doesn't have much to do with white balance, but you balance for the light source. In winter it may be tricky sometimes, but as a general rule, you can use either the presets in the camera, i.e. if sunny, use sunshine setting, if cloudy use cloudy setting, and if sun is hidden, but you have a mostly blue sky as the main light source, try open shade.

    You can also try a custom white balance, where you use the snow as reference. Use the setting that looks best, and if you save RAW there shouldn't be much problem adjusting WB to something reasonable.

    White balance is not what most people have problems with, but exposure. Often you will need to expose more than the zero setting on your compensation dial/light meter display. If there is much snow in the image, a +1 compensation often is needed to make it white instead of grey. A correct white balance might render the snow a "dirty grey" appearance, which needs more exposure to turn the snow into white. The reason is that the light meter of the camera cannot know what's in front of it, and it is adjusted to render any scene as a "middle grey", while the scene you photograph might be much brighter. That's why the camera has the control for compensation, so you can tell it to make this image brighter than a general scene that has all kinds of mixed values.
    Last edited by Inkanyezi; 18th January 2013 at 01:52 PM. Reason: typo

  3. #3

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Hi,
    Ok thanks for that. It's basically snowing like hell so no blue sky just white everywhere. I think as you have mentioned I will mess about with the exposure compensation and see how things turn out.
    Lovely city Stockholm by the way, have been there twice and drove there from Gothenburg both times, lovely country.
    Thanks again,
    Nick

  4. #4
    Melkus's Avatar
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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Funny you should ask that, I was thinking about this the other day with snow we going get here I was wanting to know more about shooting photos in the snow. I found this and it help me.

    http://www.geofflawrence.com/snow.html

  5. #5
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    Re: 450D White Balance

    It is always a pretty sure thing to shoot with auto white balance and capture the image in RAW and to include a white balance target (I use the WhiBal http://whibalhost.com/_Tutorials/WhiBal/01/ ). Then use the white balance eye dropper in Camera RAW when you open your image in PSE, Photoshop or Lightroom. I am not familiar with other editing programs but assume that they all have some sort of white balance control.

    Exposure is another thing entirely... As Urban mentioned above, you need to increase your exposure in snow scenes because the meter in the camera wants to turn your scene into a mid-tone gray and will underexpose the snow. The resulting gray is often interpreted as "over blue" in color balance while it is actually an exposure problem...

    Just how much to over expose is a bit chancy. However using your Canon (DSLR?) you can set the camera to a three shot auto exposure bracketing sequence at half stop intervals and then use a + 1 stop exposure compensation. This will give you three shots, the first will be 1/2 stop greater than your meter reads, the second will be 1-stop greater and the third will be 1.5 stops greater. If you have set your camera to burst mode, the camera will fire three auto exposure bracketed shots and then stop until you press the shutter again...

    By the way, some other brand cameras have the three shot and then stop AEB sequence and some do not.

  6. #6

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Hi Urban, Paul & Richard,

    All very good techniques which I will be trying out. I am slowly getting to grips with the EOS 450D and am getting to like the camera very much. With the above advice I hope to be taking much better pictures.
    Thanks,
    Nick

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Hi Nick,

    This may not be relevant to the weather you have now, but ...

    As Urban says, the white balance should be determined by the light source - as reflected by what's in shot.

    As I see it, the worst combination is the sunny, blue sky weather that can come after the snow, looks lovely, but if you shoot an alpine scene consisting of sunlit snow and shadows from tall trees, the shadows will appear to be too blue if you balance for the sunlit snow, or the sunlit snow will appear too yellow if you balance for the (blue sky lit) shadows.

    I haven't tried it, but perhaps this is something to experiment with selectively applied colour balance in PP.

    I guess if I were doing it, I'd balance for the colour temp of what's the predominant tone of white (e.g. the sunlit or shadow), then correct the other in PP.

    If you shoot RAW, you'll have the ability to correct in PP without penalty.

    You could do two RAW conversions; one optimised for both WB and exposure of the sunlit snow, the other for the shadows and blend on different layers in PP, or if you're a LR user, do the same with the adjustment brush (not that I have LR).

    Cheers,

  8. #8
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Even though I have the opportunity to do plenty of shooting out in the snow, it is one part of photography that I personally struggle with. We get around 240cm / 7ft 9in of snow during an average winter, and have had over 440 cm / 14ft 8in.

    While I tend to be a jpeg+ RAW shooter for most situations, snowy scenes are ones I almost always shoot in RAW format. This is because snowy scenes tend to test the limits of camera technology in most This is because a snowy scene can be a very challenging setting to work in. In addition to acting as a white reflector, that can take on the colour of the surroundings. In warm afternoon light at sunset, it can take on a warm tone, but in shadow areas, the cool blue colours exists. It can take on the grey skies on an overcast day and result in an absolutely super contrasty image under mid-day sunlight. Getting skin tones to look right and getting a good colour balance in the rest of the scene can be difficult. If the weather conditions are correct, one can get some really strange looking magenta to pink colours as the red sky is reflected by the snow, and frankly that can look terrible, even though the colours are accurate.


    Snowy scenes can be almost monochromatic and boring, but adding a bit of colour into the shot can totally change the characteristics of the image.

    450D White Balance


    Colours can really "pop" as the snow acts as a reflector, but in spite of the reflections, harsh shadows are everywhere and they take on a characteristic blue cast.

    450D White Balance


    The mid-day sun casts very harsh shadows, and even the snow does not reflect enough light to kill some of the harsh light.

    450D White Balance


    Sunset shots give very strange mixed lighting that provide the red / yellow / orange reflections in some places and the blue shadows in other places.

    450D White Balance

    Shooting a snowy scene on an overcast day shows fine details because the diffuse light is reflected everywhere, but the skies and scenery can be quite flat and boring.

    450D White Balance


    Sunrise and sunset shots during snow storms can result in downright weird looking colours. In this shot, taken at sunrise, the sky reflects a pink glow everywhere that is rather unattractive.

    450D White Balance


    While the colour balance in this reworked shot is not accurate, it has better esthetics.

    450D White Balance



    So the bottom line when shooting snowy scenes is similar to advice given for sunrise or sunset images; accurate colour balance settings may not give you a particularly nice looking image. So shoot RAW and use the widest latitude that your camera sensor can record and come up with a pleasing image, regardless of the white balance suggestions your camera or PP software make.

  9. #9

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    thanks for the advise and it benefit me in similar situation: indoor ice rink. That's why I always need to boost up the exposure in photoshop so that my daughter's face is not so dark.
    I understand the white balance as I shot in RAW.
    Exposure bracketing: Do I still need to use exposure bracketing? if I can push up the exposure in photoshop later?

    Bill

  10. #10

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Yeung View Post
    thanks for the advise and it benefit me in similar situation: indoor ice rink. That's why I always need to boost up the exposure in photoshop so that my daughter's face is not so dark.
    I understand the white balance as I shot in RAW.
    Exposure bracketing: Do I still need to use exposure bracketing? if I can push up the exposure in photoshop later?

    Bill
    You cannot do anything about exposure in Photoshop.

    I really hate it that they named the brightness control in the program "Exposure", because it isn't. Exposure only takes place at the moment you press the shutter button, never at any other time.

    You may alter the brightness of your image in post production, but you cannot change the exposure you did when you took the picture. Of course, you can adopt a sloppy routine of under-exposing your snow scenes and pushing them in PP to make them look better, but in essence, it is bad craftsmanship. The better way is to correct your exposure before pressing the button, so that as much tonality as possible will come out in the final picture.

    It is the mantra of exposing to the right, ETTR, and a heritage of Ansel Adams and the zone system that governs how we could best shoot our images to render as much tonality as possible, and at the same time avoiding too much noise. When shooting snow just as the light meter suggests without compensating for its relative brightness, you throw away data, crippling your sensor's dynamic range. Maybe it is less important with modern sensors capturing up to 14 steps of dynamic range, but nevertheless, the idea of pushing brightness later in Photoshop is not optimal. Much less so if you have one of the sensors with less dynamic range and push ISO at the time of caption when the light is low.

    Whether or not you'll have to bracket is up to you; most of us can evaluate the scene and set a proper compensation when shooting in any of the auto fashions or set proper exposure manually, so that bracketing would not be needed. This was much more difficult in the days of film, particularly with slide film. Now in the digital age, we may look at the picture just taken and evaluate its exposure with two beautiful tools that in the film days were unavailable. Highlight warning and the histogram, both of them used with caution, will tell you whether your image is under-exposed, correctly exposed or over-exposed. Some of our cameras even have live histograms and highlight warning, so that exposure may be evaluated before taking the picture.

    So, in essence, you cannot boost exposure in Photoshop, never. You can alter the brightness, and it comes at a price. When you expose well at the moment you press the button, your file will have better rendition of the shadows, with less noise and better tonality and colour depth than if you push process it afterwards.

  11. #11
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: 450D White Balance

    When it comes to correct exposure, especially in unknown, variable environments, I rely on my histogram and will set exposures to what I see there. If I am planning to shoot people, I'm someone who still sticks an incident light meter up to someone's face and takes a reading and if I don't have one of those I find zooming in on someone's face and getting a spot meter reading works fairly well most of the time too (skin is remarkably close to the 18% gray value, so you do get a fairly good exposure). You might want to try this last point in the ice rink scenario with your daughter, Bill. I find that bracketing is not a great technique in action shots as I will be throwing away some potentially good shots. On the other hand, in tricky lighting for landscapes, why not?

    I understand where Urban is coming from on his comments on exposure, at least philosophically, but from a practical standpoint, especially the way I shoot I will have to disagree. A modern camera has an amazing dynamic range when shooting at low ISO values. At ISO 100 I get 14.4 stops, and that drops to around 8 stops at ISO 6400. If I am planning to print, I get perhaps 5 stops of dynamic range and perhaps a bit better than 9 stops on my desktop display and a bit less on a laptop. That means (and I tend to shoot with as low an ISO as I can get away with), I get a lot of data in a RAW file that I can't even detect on my high gamut monitor, so darkening or lightening things up by a stop or even two stops in PP is not going to have any impact on my image quality at all. If I am shooting at a faster ISO, like existing light indoor sports shots, I may lose a bit when viewing on a screen, but if I am planning to print, for sure there will be no impact on the final quality.

  12. #12
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    Re: 450D White Balance

    Exposure bracketing: Do I still need to use exposure bracketing? if I can push up the exposure in photoshop later?
    A shorter answer is: don't do that.

    Regardless of whether it is correct to call the brightening controls "exposure," the practical question you are asking is: is it OK to compensate in post for underexposure?" The answer is: most of the time, avoid it. The reason is actually pretty simple. As you increase exposure, you increase the amount of information being recorded. I forget the actual function, but it is more than linear. However, the amount of noise generated by the sensor is not affected by exposure. (It is affected by ISO.) Therefore, the lower the exposure, the worse the signal/noise ratio. And as a result, if you underexpose and brighten in postprocessing, you will end up with a much noisier image than if you had exposed better.

    This is the rational for the ETTR that Urban mentions. There is a lot of argument about whether it is always the best thing to do, but the principle is that if you expose so that the histogram is as far to the right as possible, without hitting the edge and clipping, you will maximize the signal-to-noise ratio.

    BTW, to do this, since you shoot raw, it is best to show all color channels on the histogram, because they will often clip at different exposures.

  13. #13

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    I would only raise things in editing if I had no other alternative. On the other hand 'exposing to the right' and raising shadow detail leads to accusations of noise in the shadows, not that I notice it in practice but perhaps as a ex-film user I am less allergic to noise than some. Short of replacement you cannot do anything with blown highlights, though people claim that if you shoot raw this is less so than if you shoot jpg. I use the later so I wouldn't know. Seema a bit like an excuse to be sloppy becuase one can fix it in raw. But then rarely is it important to have a large contrast range in what I photograph. I sometimes have my histogram switched on but for day-to-day shooting I rely on 'blinkies' to warn me of blown highlights.
    Ideally one gives or gets the right exposure for the subject matter but it is useful and competant to know what can be done or cannot be done in your editing programme becuase camera and editor are companion tools.

    I am not sure how Bill Yeung is boosting his daughter's face but I don't see anything wrong in raising the brightness level of the face so long as you do not raise the rest of the image which is likely to happen with the brightness/contrast tool. I assume that the expsure tool is an overall brightness tool. I can think of a couple, no three , of ways of doing this with my editor with either its layers facility or the brightness darkness tool which is different to the overall brightness/contrast tool and just works on the area you detirmine in setting up the tool. I use PSP.

  14. #14

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    Re: 450D White Balance

    thank you to all the response around exposure.
    Apology to Nick while his original theme is white balance.
    Yes, who don't want to ave a perfect exposure right from the beginning? Sport photographer understand with quick action ongoing plus not enough light ( like hockey rink) perfect exposure is only a dream.
    Seeing many professional pictures about hockey player is: always are too dark on the player's face, as they are with ( behind) helmet.
    agreed that photoshop exposure ( light) enhancement is bringing up the whole picture brighntness.
    That's why photoshop has layer function. We can take out the face of a player, brighten it and layer it back to the photo.
    My figure skating environment is even tougher than hockey; "No flash is allowed. and indoor light is from top .
    saw lots of professional photographers attending figure skating competiton and selling pictures are all facing the same challenge. No matter 200mm or 400mm the max you got is F 2.8!!
    It is no way close to an ideal lighting situation.
    still , thanks and appreciate lots of input, feedback. Learn a lot.
    Bill

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