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Thread: White Balance Quandry

  1. #1
    Gerry's Avatar
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    White Balance Quandry

    I am amazed by this image:

    http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=860916

    My experience in shooting cityscapes has been limited to Los Angeles and therein may lie the answer to my query. 1) What white balance setting do you think was used? 2) Am I correct in assuming that a custom white balance cannot be accurately set due to the distance and light conditions directly in front of the lens and the conditions of the subject in the distance? 3) My recent shot below was set to "daylight" white balance on a cloudless night and shot in raw. 4) Any attempt to get a more realistic image by manipulating the white balance in ACR is not successful and results in a washed-out yucky purple sky and subjects. 5) Rarely do we have a clear sky/air in L.A. and this night was no exception with heavy smog. Can light bouncing off the smog create this amber color in the sky and on bldgs? Your thoughts will be appreciated.

    _mg_4169.jpg

    Thanks.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 4th April 2010 at 02:40 PM.

  2. #2
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    I get 6500 Kelvin from Helicon Filter but I can't do a thing with it. But then you mentioned smoke and I thought why not add a multiply layer. Finished of with an OptikVerve 'LessTungsten' Filter.
    White Balance Quandry

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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Gerry,

    If the scene were lit by the moon you would use daylight as the white balance setting. Problem is, most of the scene is lit by artificial light and probably more than one source.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
    I am amazed by this image:

    http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=860916

    My experience in shooting cityscapes has been limited to Los Angeles and therein may lie the answer to my query. 1) What white balance setting do you think was used? 2) Am I correct in assuming that a custom white balance cannot be accurately set due to the distance and light conditions directly in front of the lens and the conditions of the subject in the distance? 3) My recent shot below was set to "daylight" white balance on a cloudless night and shot in raw. 4) Any attempt to get a more realistic image by manipulating the white balance in ACR is not successful and results in a washed-out yucky purple sky and subjects. 5) Rarely do we have a clear sky/air in L.A. and this night was no exception with heavy smog. Can light bouncing off the smog create this amber color in the sky and on bldgs? Your thoughts will be appreciated. Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Gerry,

    If the scene were lit by the moon you would use daylight as the white balance setting. Problem is, most of the scene is lit by artificial light and probably more than one source.
    Did you guys look at this image:

    http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=860916

    This is the one I have questions about and compare to mine as posted.

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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Gerry,

    It was written that the lights of Vegas are so bright that you cannot see the stars miles above the city.

    1. Incandescent white balance setting would give the blue cast shown in the Seattle seascape.
    2. If your camera is equipped with the function, you can manually set the white balance using a pre-measured test of the light source.

    3. Light will bounce off air particles will create noise, the color of light has to have a source.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
    Did you guys look at this image:

    http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=860916

    This is the one I have questions about and compare to mine as posted.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Hi Gerry,

    What software are you using for RAW conversion and PP?

    In ACR, I'd be quite surprised if one of the other presets (named similarly to what's available in camera) didn't get you closer, then a tweak of Temperature (B/Y) and Tint (R/G) to get it more acceptable.

    However, it may be that to get a "good" result (like the other shot) may require treating highlights, mid-tones and shadows separately, which should be possible in a PP program.

    EDIT: OK, I've now had a quick play with the jpg and I agree, it ain't gonna be easy
    I'll give up now, as for this kind of adjustment, it really has to be done on the RAW file.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 4th April 2010 at 03:06 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Gerry,

    It was written that the lights of Vegas are so bright that you cannot see the stars miles above the city.

    1. Incandescent white balance setting would give the blue cast shown in the Seattle seascape.
    2. If your camera is equipped with the function, you can manually set the white balance using a pre-measured test of the light source.

    3. Light will bounce off air particles will create noise, the color of light has to have a source.
    Shadowman;

    1) So if I set mine to Tungsten, I would get the same as the Seattle shot? This didn't seem to work out that way when I tried in ACR.
    2) I will try a custom white balance setting ans see what happens.
    3) Yes, but wouldn't the heavy smog still prevent "blue night sky" and would reflect the strong yellow of incandescent? It is a reflective surface isn't it? I have some noise in this shot even though at ISO100.

  8. #8
    Gerry's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Gerry,

    What software are you using for RAW conversion and PP?

    In ACR, I'd be quite surprised if one of the other presets (named similarly to what's available in camera) didn't get you closer, then a tweak of Temperature (B/Y) and Tint (R/G) to get it more acceptable.

    However, it may be that to get a "good" result (like the other shot) may require treating highlights, mid-tones and shadows separately, which should be possible in a PP program.

    EDIT: OK, I've now had a quick play with the jpg and I agree, it ain't gonna be easy
    I'll give up now, as for this kind of adjustment, it really has to be done on the RAW file.

    Cheers,
    Hi Dave;

    I use ACR 4.6 since I am still on PS CS3. I tried all white balance settings and temperatures & tints but couldn't even come close to the Seattle image. Like I said yucky purple is the best I got. I think it may be better shot in incandescent wht. bal. but also think the smog/air quality has a lot to do with the sky color...If the air was clear of smog, it wouldn't have anything to bounce off of and would more likely be of dark blue cast...not sure of that, though. I shot some just before sunset and there wasn't a HINT of blue sky, only gray smog.

  9. #9
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    1. Yes, you will get the blue cast similar to the attached photo you referenced. You can also get the same blue using natural light, after the sun sets there is a natural blue above the horizon but this may not illuminate the buildings as their lights would be facing away from the sun. Look at the attached photos taken many years ago with a point and shoot, photographed through the window of a moving bus. I used ACDsee software to colorize the original.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...1&d=1270398091
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...1&d=1270398091

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
    Shadowman;

    1) So if I set mine to Tungsten, I would get the same as the Seattle shot? This didn't seem to work out that way when I tried in ACR.
    2) I will try a custom white balance setting ans see what happens.
    3) Yes, but wouldn't the heavy smog still prevent "blue night sky" and would reflect the strong yellow of incandescent? It is a reflective surface isn't it? I have some noise in this shot even though at ISO100.
    Last edited by Shadowman; 4th April 2010 at 04:35 PM. Reason: added photos

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
    I think it may be better shot in incandescent wht. bal. but also think the smog/air quality has a lot to do with the sky color...If the air was clear of smog, it wouldn't have anything to bounce off of and would more likely be of dark blue cast...not sure of that, though. I shot some just before sunset and there wasn't a HINT of blue sky, only gray smog.
    Yes, this diagnosis sounds right; as you say, it should be better if shot Tungsten, but applying that in ACR to the RAW ought to be very similar, and as that doesn't work, then something else must be causing it.

    To rescue this shot, the only thing I can suggest is to monochrome it, then, if essential to replicate the other shot, hand colour it.

  11. #11
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    You can also get the same blue using natural light, after the sun sets there is a natural blue above the horizon but this may not illuminate the buildings as their lights would be facing away from the sun.
    Thanks, Shadowman. I will shoot with incandescent & custom and see what happens. As I said, though, I didn't see any blue afterglow due to heavy smog. Will see. Thx, again.

  12. #12
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    To rescue this shot, the only thing I can suggest is to monochrome it, then, if essential to replicate the other shot, hand colour it.
    No, Dave. It isn't essential to replicate the other shot. I was just curious why I couldn't get the same effect and wondered why. I also admire the other shot. Thx for thoughts. Will experiment more.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
    No, Dave. It isn't essential to replicate the other shot.
    OK, understood.

    But I have just had an idea

    In CS3, duplicate the background as a new layer, make it monochrome, then colour it for the blue required.
    Then erase bits of it over the non-white lights you want; e.g. red, gold, green, blue, etc.

    This may be best done on the coloured layer, then the mask inverted.
    I probably haven't explained that right, but I know what I mean, even though I've never done it

    Sorry, must dash, daughter wants to drive (she's learning).

    UPDATE: It's OK, I survived to do it all again tomorrow night

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 4th April 2010 at 06:55 PM.

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    Gerry's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    In CS3, duplicate the background as a new layer, make it monochrome, then colour it for the blue required.
    Then erase bits of it over the non-white lights you want; e.g. red, gold, green, blue, etc.

    This may be best done on the coloured layer, then the mask inverted.
    I probably haven't explained that right, but I know what I mean, even though I've never done it

    Sorry, must dash, daughter wants to drive (she's learning).

    UPDATE: It's OK, I survived to do it all again tomorrow night

    Cheers,
    I get your drift and am going to give that a go to see what happens. Thx. Glad daughter is getting the hang of it!
    Best,
    Gerry

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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    1x Photoshop 30-Second Makeover (TM!) later ...

    White Balance Quandry
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th April 2010 at 07:07 AM.

  16. #16
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    1x Photoshop 30-Second Makeover (TM!) later ...
    OK Colin, you've got my attention! What's the formula or do I have to buy something since it's your secret TM? Nice job, though!

    BTW, Colin, do you have any thoughts as to how this wht. bal. was achieved in this shot vs. the effect in mine as posted? http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=860916

    No one comments much on the "smog" effect and I wonder if that is contributing greatly to my lack of good sky. I want to be able to shoot this type of sky and color balance right out of camera if possible. I am going to shoot this with tungsten setting, however, since I have not been able to change the wht. bal. successfully in ACR, I am not hopeful. Thx.
    Last edited by Gerry; 5th April 2010 at 02:25 PM.

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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    1x Photoshop 30-Second Makeover (TM!) later ...
    Does any of this take you longer than 30 seconds Colin
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th April 2010 at 08:53 PM.

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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
    OK Colin, you've got my attention! What's the formula or do I have to buy something since it's your secret TM? Nice job, though!
    Thanks Gerry, although I would have been able to do a much better job with the original RAW file. To be honet, when I shoot scenes like this I ignore WB altogether and just adjust it in PP later.

    With your shot I simply used the WB eyedropper and clicked on the background (which I guessed should be a "black" shade of neutral gray - and then maxed out the vibrance - upped the saturation - and adjusted the WB for "best look" - and "job done" essentially

    With regards to the image you posted the link to ... short answer is "who knows, who cares" - you won't get a shot like that straight out of the camera no matter what WB setting you use. Interestingly, the fishing boat in the foreground is the same design as some of the ones I look after - and the top decks are typically white if that gives you a clue!

    I'd suggest not getting too hung up over WB; if you're shooting RAW then it's only a starting point, and with shots like these it's irrelivant.

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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Does any of this take you longer than 30 seconds Colin
    To be honest, it varies; in most cases I'm just trying to demonstrate something so I'm following the old 80/20 rule and getting the image 80% there in a fairly short time. I use Photoshop quite a lot and after a while you get pretty good at just looking at an image and instantly knowing what's needed, and how much.

  20. #20
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    Re: White Balance Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'd suggest not getting too hung up over WB; if you're shooting RAW then it's only a starting point, and with shots like these it's irrelivant.
    Thanks again, Colin. I'll go back to the RAW file and tinker til I'm happy.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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