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Thread: White Balance on snow

  1. #1
    Sunray's Avatar
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    Robert S.

    White Balance on snow

    Hi,

    a few day ago the first snow fell on germany so I went out on a sunny day with a light amount of haze in the air and took a few pictures. During processing the pictures at home I realized that shadows on the snow have a bluish taint. I tried to do WB manual onto these shadow areas. As a result the blue sky does not look blue anymore and the sun lit areas on the snow look yellow. I do not like the the bluish shadows in the snow, but the other picture looks even worse for me.

    What would you do to get "the right" look on such an image? Any suggestions and ideas are welcome.

    bye
    Robert


    20101127__mg_5038_700px_wb_daylight_fullsize.jpg
    Fullsize, WB on "daylight"


    20101127__mg_5038_700px_wb_daylight.jpg
    Crop, WB on "daylight"


    20101127__mg_5038_700px_wb_manual_on-shadows.jpg
    Crop, WB manual, made on the shadow areas of the snow

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance on snow

    Robert

    I believe that the only way is to have a white-balance card and take one photo of that to use as a reference.

    Even for my B&Ws and based on advice given by Colin not long after I joined this forum, I always take a 'white balance shot' of my Whi-Bal card and then 'correct' the balance in DxO Optics Pro. For the images I've posted in the last 24 hours that incorporate snow, this is what I did.

  3. #3
    Sunray's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance on snow

    Where would you place it, Donald? In direct sunlight or in the shadows if there are any?

    bye
    Robert

  4. #4
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance on snow

    For a Whi-Bal it doesn't matter. The only requirement is that you hold it or place it so that you don't get any reflection from the 'black point' or 'white point' segments on the card. But the grey area is a true neutral , so under whatever light it will return an accurate reading from which you can then set white-balance adjustment.

    Details of the Whi-Bal are here. I bought mine directly from the manufacturer is the US.

  5. #5
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance on snow

    Robert

    One other thought on this ........

    If you are shooting when there is a blue sky, I think it is inevitable that you're going to get a blue reflection from the snow. It is just like water. In fact, it is water.

    So, a white balancing adjustment is always going to change both the sky and snow, given that you are getting reflected light from the snow. A white balance adjustment is not going to 'correct' the the snow and leave the sky unaffected, unless you use layer masks for different parts of the image.

    So, the question is - Do you want/need to adjust the bluish tint on the shadows on the snow, if this is the 'natural' look? It looks fine in the images that you posted. But, of course, I have anomalous trichromaticism (colour blindness) to contend with, so may be writing a lot of nonsense!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance on snow

    No Donald,

    I don't think you are writing nonsense.

    Robert,

    Here's how I look at it:

    Blue sky and sun shining, that's two light sources of vastly different colour temperature.

    The snow is the snow, just lit by both, or one (in shadow) light source - and the same will be true for the Whi-Bal card - it does matter what it is lit by.

    The first shot looks OK because that's what we would see;
    i) the shadows are quite small in area, and
    ii) the eye takes in the whole scene and reconciles the 'wrong' WB in the shadows because it can see all that lovely blue sky

    In the second crop, it fails to do this so effectively because there's less sky and more shadow, so they look 'bluer'.

    The last one just looks wrong because we know the snow shouldn't be yellow

    I'm afraid you're going to have to compromise if you want a view like the second one and adjust the colour gains of the shadows separately from the highlights (sunlit snow).

    If it had been a day with a less blue sky, the shadows would have been a lot more neutral, as they'd be lit by white cloud reflections.

    Cheers,

  7. #7

    Re: White Balance on snow

    It's just an observation..... One of my favorite children's illustrators, Michael Hague, has an interesting way of showing snow with his watercolors - actually, more interesting is his take on white objects (i.e. unicorn, etc.) on snow. He paints the snow with a lot of blue in the texture and shadows of the snow - it makes for a deep and cold "pure" feeling white (even though it is a tint). Then, the white animals, etc. on top of the snow are shaded with yellow. Anyway, the whites that look the most crisp have blue in them.

    Here's an example: http://www.unicornlady.net/Gallery/i...hael_hague.jpg er, I just googled the image - I don't know the unicorn lady.

    These are just thoughts. I have a question coming that is very similar to Robert's - I had a tough time photographing the ice on the trees; so, I've been watching this thread with bated breath.
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 28th November 2010 at 05:58 PM.

  8. #8
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance on snow

    Hi Robert,

    Donald and Dave are right; it is a compromise where you have different light sources. In the open area the shot is illuminated by direct sunlight light, with no colour cast. In the shadows the light is indirect and comes from reflected light from eh sky, which is blue. The only way to minimise this dilemma is to compose your shot to include as much open space (if that is you subject) or shadows as possible and reduce the other.

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