Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 47

Thread: White Balance for Nature Photography

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    White Balance for Nature Photography

    I'm wondering why I am using the auto WB setting on my camera, instead of the given presets for the conditions... ie; sunny for sunny, cloudy for cloudy, etc... (or a grey card)... which would match the colour temperature for the time of day

    While I understand why one would wish to eliminate a colour cast when photographing people or products, in nature the morning and late evening light is very beautiful, so if the light it makes my white bird a little blue or golden, by using auto white balance am I not taking away from the very light I hoped to capture?

    Also, why is it that in post processing my raw files in LR, I can't simply set the WB to the colour temperature as indicated by the time of day I took my photo to match the corresponding time on the Kelvin Scale? I tried it on a white gull that I photographed at 6:30am (around 3000 K) but it made the ocean waters a very unrealistic purple-blue colour.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Digital's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Carrollton, Georgia (USA)
    Posts
    2,156
    Real Name
    Bruce

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Christina, several months ago Donald (moderator) put me on to the WhiBal card. Basically you take a photo of the card in the SAME light as your subject. If the lighting is different at the subject's position than the camera's position, place the WhiBal card at the subject's position. When you get into PP you use the eyedropper tool on the card, and it will set the correct WB for the scene you photographed.
    In LR you can batch all the photos shot in the same light to set the correct WB.
    I believe the web address for the WhiBal card is: www.whibal.com
    or you can Google it. The web site has a video on how to use the card. Apparently it is better to use this than an 18% gray card which is really used in assisting you in setting a proper exposure.

    Bruce
    Last edited by Digital; 24th August 2013 at 10:01 PM.

  3. #3
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Hi Bruce,

    Very helpful.. Thank you. I have used cards with flowers, and I will check that link out... Appreciated.

    However, what I am asking is why do we bother correcting WB for nature photography, especially if the photo is taken at dawn or dusk when the light has a beautiful blue or a golden cast to it. And I am also asking why not use the presets in the camera to match the scene at the time, and why in this high tech digital age that setting WB in Lightroom to match the corresponding Kelvin scale at the time of day, does not work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital View Post
    Christina, several months ago Donald (moderator) put me on to the WhiBal card. Basically you take a photo of the card in the SAME light as your subject. When you get into PP you use the eyedropper tool on the card, and it will set the correct WB for the scene you photographed.
    In LR you can batch all the photos shot in the same light to set the correct WB.
    I believe the web address for the WhiBal card is: www.whibal.com
    or you can Google it. The web site has a video on how to use the card. Apparently it is better to use this than an 18% gray card which is really used in assisting you in setting a proper exposure.

    Bruce

  4. #4
    davidedric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Cheshire, England
    Posts
    3,100
    Real Name
    Dave

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Hi Christina,

    If you are shooting a static scene, then Bruce's advice is sound.

    If you are shooting wildlife, when happily (in my opinion) light is moving all the time, then there is no point at all in worrying about WB. If you are shooting RAW, as I know you do, then I would say just set WB to Auto, and concentrate on the other settings. You can dial any temperature and tint you like in pp. There is no right setting, just the one that gets you the image that you want.

    Dave

  5. #5
    Digital's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Carrollton, Georgia (USA)
    Posts
    2,156
    Real Name
    Bruce

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    This question is beyond my expertise Christina. I do believe that if you are happy with the light as you see it captured is suitable for you then , by all means, go with it. I do have a question: the Kelvin temp is around 5500K for a sunny day. Is this Kelvin temperature CONSTANT from sunrise to sunset? If the K temperature is not constant this may explain your color variance depending on the time you took the photo.
    This would explain why setting the Kelvin temperature to get a good representation of your colors varies.
    Would other members from CiC please chime in.

    Bruce

  6. #6
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,979
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Christina - While you can get an accurate white balance a number of ways, I generally find that under certain conditions (especially when shooting people and shots at "golden hour", whether that is in the morning or evening), I will go for a "pleasing" colour cast, rather than colour accuracy.

    I tend to warm up any shots of people a bit, because I like them with a touch of a warm tone and find they do not look as good when they are neutral (which may mean I colour balance for a neutral colour before warming things up). I find I also prefer warmer tones for sunset and sunrise shots, so will work my shots to have more of a yellow or red cast.

    Unless you are doing product photography for a client who has a specifc Pantone colour that they want matched for their branding, allowing artisitic license is fine, so long as things work for you.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    As Manfred pointed out, there are two approaches to white balancing; "technically accurate" and "visually appropriate".

    Things like WhiBal cards give you a technically correct starting point -- I most often use these for product shots and studio work, whereas for sunset shots it's ALWAYS "shoot RAW and adjust for whet looks best".

    There are no right or wrongs -- so long as you get the result you're seeking. Even with people shots, technical accuracy isn't always wanted eg if I were to photography you at a restaurant where your face was illuminated by the light from a candle, you wouldn't want the candle light to be adjusted to be purely white (as it would be if we were going for technically accurate) - we'd expect it to be a yellowish light.

  8. #8
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Thank you.. Manfred and Colin provided the answer I was looking for.

    Dave, do you try to find the WB that matches your scene even if it means your image will have a colour cast?

    Bruce, I'm way in over my head here... But these are informative... I had a chart which showed how WB temperature, the point on the Kelvin scale, which included the time of day which I was referring to, on the internet but I can't the link. When I do I will post it.

    http://www.3drender.com/glossary/colortemp.htm

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...te-balance.htm

  9. #9
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    13,296
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Christina, I go along with Manfred and Colin regarding "pleasing" rather than "technically accurate" color. I always shoot in RAW and will often use the Whibal card (which Donald recommended to me about a year ago) to get myself in the "ballpark" regarding the image color and then go on to play with the color to get it "the way I like it!"

    As with Manfred, I tend to like my color for human portraits a bit warmer than "technically accurate" however with portraits of my white dogs, I like the color to be almost absolutely accurate so there won't be a color cast in their white coat.

    To this end, I often use the white coat of my dogs as a color target and use the Camera RAW eye dropper tool on that white coat.

    I have been using my NIK software more and more these days and there is within both the Color Efex Pro and the Viveza 2 portions of the NIK software a multitude of ways to adjust the color in an image or within portions of an image from just tweaking it for accuracy or going overboard with psychedelic glare. I tend to use it more for tweaking and I am learning something new almost every day...

    A very handy NIK filter for getting correct or pleasing whites is the White Neutralizer of NIK Color Efex Pro. Here is a YouTude tutorial. BTW: I have learned almost all that I know about NIK Software from the multitude of YouTube tutorials available.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V7Yu4fh4Hk
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 25th August 2013 at 04:23 AM.

  10. #10
    davidedric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Cheshire, England
    Posts
    3,100
    Real Name
    Dave

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Dave, do you try to find the WB that matches your scene even if it means your image will have a colour cast?
    What I was trying to say is that my aim is to create a visually pleasing image. If I were shooting for museum species identification, that would be a different matter. Let me add a couple of things. Note I was referring to wildlife; shooting trees may be a bit different .

    As you know from your bird photography, wildlife can be tricky. There can be a lot going on, and you often don't have time to make all the adjustments you might like. So, aperture: dof cannot (properly) be fixed in pp. Shutter speed: motion blur cannot be fixed in pp. Blown highlights: depends, you won't get back feather detail. ISO: noise, in most cases can be satisfactorily managed in pp. WB: can most certainly be fixed in pp. So I worry about getting right the things I can't fix later, and let WB look after itself.

    There is a second thing. Exactly which WB are you going to set? Take a simple example: snow (Manfred is the expert here). We all know freshly fallen snow is white, but take a look at a photograph - if the sunlit snow is white, the snow in shadow will be blue. They have different colour temperatures: there is no single WB that will make all the snow neutral. The same is likely true in nature with a mixture of sunshine, shadows, direct light and reflected light. So back to the question - which WB do you set?

    If I've got this all wrong, I am sure one of our esteemed contributors will step in

    I'll make one exception. An african elephant, should you happen to have one handy, makes an excellent grey card

    Dave

  11. #11
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Richard and Dave,

    Thank you for your very informative replies which I find very helpful in that they provide me with a different way of looking at WB.

    Richard - I will try that on my white birds. I've watched a couple of tutorials on Nik, and it looks like a very powerful processing program.

    Dave - Great advice. Thank you for sharing. I would love to have my own African elephant to use as a WB tool and a mode of transportation, but most of all as a model.

  12. #12
    drjuice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    310
    Real Name
    Virginia

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Hi, Christine -

    A couple of thoughts,

    While I was driving home from taking pictures of Navajo blankets yesterday, I saw what I call new "light post banners" to advertise the 2013-2014 season for the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. While I've seen sunsets more towards peach/yellow, and not so purplely, than the banners have, I like the idea that the designer applied to the image of Disney. See their home page at: http://www.laphil.org that gives the effect. IMHO, that's clearly a PS or similar application.

    And, back on your question about white balance, since I use dcraw to process my RAW images, I can apply automatic WB or any particular value I prefer. For things that are clearly out of where they should be for having the correct WB, I'll stick in what I perceive as the correct WB. However, after all the trials and tribulations I had with PnS cameras, using automatic gets me pretty close and, generally, I need only minimal work to get a bit closer.

    virginia

    Edited to fix spelling error

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Leiden, Netherlands
    Posts
    185
    Real Name
    Hero

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    In nature photography I never worry about white balance. I leave that for when I'm back home behind my computer. I do sometimes worry about colour though, fi. small birds amongst greenery on a sunny day. I usually (try to) solve the expected green-cast by adding a slight bit of flash from the on-camera thingy. usually at -0.7 - 1.0 compensation to cast a bit of 'pure' white light onto the foreground/subject.
    The rest is playing with the sliders in darktable (lightroom equivalent) to what best suits my taste.

  14. #14
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Thank you Virginia and Hero for your replies...

    Virginia, that is banner is a great example of WB for effect. It sounds like everyone uses auto WB and not the presets which is what I'm doing but I was questioning why.

    Hero... Thank you for the great tip on small birds against greenery. New to me and interesting. I will give it a go.

  15. #15
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,979
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    It sounds like everyone uses auto WB and not the presets which is what I'm doing but I was questioning why.
    Actually Christina, as a jpeg + RAW shooter, I tend to shoot both auto white balance or one of the presets. I tend to prefer using the presets, but sometimes get lazy and just leave it on auto white balance. If I shoot at "magic hour" I pretty well shoot presets only, once I determine which one gives me the colours I like. The issue with auto white balance is that while it is good, I find that the presets give me more consistent results, as long as the light does not change. I also use the custom white balance on the camera.

  16. #16

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    If I shoot at "magic hour" I pretty well shoot presets only, once I determine which one gives me the colours I like.
    In those situations I just whack the camera into LiveView, and then just go into WB setting and spin the dial whilst I watch the result in real time on the screen. Although I'm shooting RAW (and thus can adjust it afterwards anyway), I still find it helpful to get it in the ball park this way.

  17. #17
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Manfred and Colin,

    Thank you for sharing. Manfred, that is good to hear. I just remembered that I have used the pre-sets on sunsets and sunrises. I will experiment with the presets since it is so easy to change.

    Colin I have yet to find LiveView on my camera but I will check it out as it sounds handy.

  18. #18

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Posts
    2,550
    Real Name
    Andre Burger

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Hi Christina,

    Manual WB is actually very easy to understand. It is as simple as understanding heat. The warmer you want it to be the more you turn it up and the colder you want it to be the more you turn it down.

    Daylight varies between around 4800K and 6500K. Your setting of 3000K renders warm daylight to become blue. 3000K will balance out fluorescent light to be white, it is way to low for daylight. 4800K will remove that warm tint in early morning and late afternoon shots. You want to make the scene warmer turn up the K temp, go towards 10000K. You do not want to balance the light temperature during the golden hours of the day, do you? You want to render the colour to be as warm as the golden hour is, keep it warm by using high K settings.

    Setting Auto WB will attempt to balance out the light temperature to render white as white in the final image.

    Don’t think in terms of balancing the light temp. just think in terms of warmer or cooler. Warmer: turn up the heat – Cooler: turn down the heat. Experiment with it and see how it works.

    Christina, that magnificent piece of equipment you use to capture your images, the D7100 has a menu with options for Picture Control. Go to that little green camera in the Shooting Menu, go to Set Picture Control and explore the options you will find there. Experiment with it and see the difference in the images coming out of that little image capturing computer called a camera.

    Read the MANUAL!

    Good luck.

  19. #19

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    3000K will balance out fluorescent light to be white, it is way to low for daylight.
    Kinda/sorta ... flourescents vary from about 2700 K through to about 6500 K., and it also involves a tint correction component, which changing colour temp manually won't compensate for.

  20. #20
    shreds's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,328
    Real Name
    Ian

    Re: White Balance for Nature Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Hi Christina,

    Read the MANUAL!
    But Andre, Christina is not alone, no one ever does! It is easier to come on here!

    Incidentally, Donald et al, WhiBal cards are silly money, take a look on Amazon, ebay etc, there are equivalent quality WB plastic cards such as DGK (Digital Grey Kards) at a fraction of the cost. Have been using these for at least five years to no detriment.

    But as said above, I will sometimes not try to correct in the field and save that for later under controlled pp conditions.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •