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02-24-2011, 08:02 PM   #1
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Help! Whats the big deal with WB?

Hi everyone,

I have a question in regards to white balance. As far as my novice understanding goes, to set a white balance is to set my camera to realize that for a particular given environment, there is a slight cast or hue or difference in colour temperature to my subject matter, which is then corrected by showing the camera what is supposed to be white.

This is all good and well, except in practice i found a little problem. Taking the last event that I shot for an example, the room had a yellow/reddish cast to it. It was dark, and the lights of the room were coated red with paper. It sets the mood.

When I left it at auto, i have photos that is yellowish reddish. Some friends complained that these photos are yellow. But I figure, this was how it looked, and this was how the mood was, and correcting it makes it look, well, ugly, and boring. I mean, these organizers of the event spent money to make the whole hall looks reddish and yellow, and now I turn it into well, an old looking white hall.

I am trying to figure out the deal with white balance, when on the other hand we spend as much money on gels as on grey cards.

Can anyone explain this?

02-24-2011, 08:31 PM   #2
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I agree with you. In order to preserve the mood of a scene we may not want to set the "correct" white balance, but either use auto WB, or set it manually to daylight.

In other cases, for example product photos, the right white balance is a must.
02-24-2011, 08:51 PM   #3
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Not much to explain, really, You have the understanding. Just apply it (AWB/Tungsten), or don't (a preset that may not match the actual WB).

It may be a bit easier to select an appropriate WB by shooting RAW and choosing the appropriate option in processing.
02-24-2011, 09:11 PM   #4
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Thanks guys

Now a question related to this then; how do I choose an appropriate option in processing?

Do i just eyeball it? (I think this was how yellow/red the cast looked like?)

The reason for this question is this,
at the last event that I took photos of, I did some with flash, and some without. Of course the photos that I took with flash has the auto WB set to flash automatically, making all those photos look...boring white.
The photos that I took without flash looks..yellowish, which was the cast at the time (more or less?).

How do i make them agree with each other? do i eyeball the photos taken with the flash and change the temperature to match in raw? I mean, I can certainly do this, but is there a different way of doing this?

02-24-2011, 10:56 PM   #5
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I use AWB 99.999999999999999999999%, flash 0.00000000000000000001%, RAW 100%, and two eyes in processing :-)
02-25-2011, 12:08 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
I use AWB 99.999999999999999999999%, flash 0.00000000000000000001%, ...
To calculate with that type of accuracy, you must have taken 99999999999999999999999 photos already. That is one photo every second for 3179 trillion years. My god, you're old

PS
If you referred to flash whitebalance, your total is over 100%
02-25-2011, 12:37 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by D4rknezz Quote
...
Do i just eyeball it? (I think this was how yellow/red the cast looked like?)
...
That, or let the PP software do it. With the latter they usually have a feature where you select an area which is supposed to be white/gray and let it adjust the balance of color channels to make it so. Some people take snaps of a gray card at the scene to help them find good settings when processing.
02-25-2011, 04:36 AM   #8
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Shoot in RAW, and you'll be able to work much better with keeping the white balance the way you want. (white balance does not affect the RAW data, only the embedded JPEG preview. You can "fix" it much more easily after the fact when you get home)
JPEG will cook in the white balance, and you're pretty much screwed if your choice was not correct throughout the night.

Still,
Color is all in the mind. Rarely will two people see colors the same as another person.
Color depends on how/where it was shot, and how/where it is viewed with regards to surrounding light and reflection of surrounding color.

I would argue, there is no "accurate" white balance other than how it is viewed by a machine... but you're probably not creating your images to be viewed by machines. (Automobile brochure photographers are another story).

White balance is also a creative choice. i.e. leave the red moody environment or strip it to a sanitary 18% gray. Or take a stale environment and boost it to appear more pleasing. If well done, who's to say it was not a true rendition of how you saw it?

So don't take it overly seriously.
In the end, accuracy does not matter. A pleasing image matters.
(generalization naturally... in some cases such as marketing materials may require consistency within specifications of lighting, temperature and other viewing conditions.) :-)

02-25-2011, 08:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
To calculate with that type of accuracy, you must have taken 99999999999999999999999 photos already. That is one photo every second for 3179 trillion years. My god, you're old

PS
If you referred to flash whitebalance, your total is over 100%
Maybe a bit too much chimping...
02-25-2011, 08:57 AM   #10
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i will add this. the event was likely lit with Tungsten light (even if covered with gels or paper for colour. Set the AWB to tungsten. in the menu on the camera you can have the camera ignore wb when using flash so it doesn't revert to a flash wb. then put a CTO gel on the flash so it outputs tungsten as well. you won't spend much time on post then and should have the colours as represented in the room. the flash can also be set to output less so you rely more on the environment lighting.
02-28-2011, 10:18 AM   #11
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As far as WB is concerned, I shoot on AWB most of the time and don't worry about it.

When taking "artsy" or important shots where I want everything to be right, then I use a whibal gray card to create a custom white balance in my camera, or will take a few pics at various locations in the room with the grey card somewhere in frame and use it as reference when adjusting WB when importing my RAW pics in post.

Just my 2 cents...

Pat
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