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11-04-2012, 03:34 AM   #1
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White Balancing questions

Hi Guys,

Two questions:

1. Is white balancing always only about colour balancing and is it also sometimes/often/never about tone balancing?

2. Say I start my photo in ACR, and do my white balancing. Than at some stage I use adjustments and in some way alter the colour of the original photo. In that case, isn't it so that I might as well have not done white balancing at all, because the colours have changed? If that is correct, that means, at any stage in PP, if we are gonna change any of our colour/s, than it defeats the purpose of white balancing the photo to start with. Hence white balance only if we know we wont play with the colours. Is that correct?

11-04-2012, 06:32 AM   #2
Ari
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I'm just a bit confused. WB in PP is a bit different depending on what you're shooting. Are you photographing interiors? Are you photographing people and balancing from flesh tones? I don't use ACR, but I try to custom balance in-camera before I shoot. It's not too difficult to do, it's worth the time saved in PP and, generally, (depending on what and how you're shooting) is worth becoming part of your pre-shooting routine.
11-04-2012, 06:52 AM   #3
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My questions are based upon a video I saw of Scott Kelby where he is telling you the steps towards PP and mentions WB as an important part of PP. That was a while ago but I think he must have mentioned a follow-up to doing it in-camera. But yes thats true, one needs to white balance in-camera before starting, though lets say we forgot that step or didn't do it for some reason, than you can do that in PP if there is a white, black or grey colour in the photo. Than comes my two questions.
11-04-2012, 06:58 AM   #4
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You can definitely WB PP if you have a black or white color in the photo. You will have better results if you are shooting RAW. Since I mostly shoot real estate, I bulked WB in Adobe RAW editor. Mostly since I shoot mutli - exposure and some stitched panoramas, it helps to match exposure and color when I am shooting through a window, then at a kitchen counter right next to an open window.
But yes - you are definitely changing both temperature and colors in your image. I tend to balance color matching with temperature - if I need to keep wood floors true - to life I may have to sacrifice white walls a bit. It depends on the overall composition. If it's people, it's always fleshtones I look to balance PP.

11-04-2012, 07:19 AM   #5
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Thanks Ari. I am understanding that most of your PP would be about changing brightness values and not necessarily colour values, is that right? Though I am still wondering if I set my white balance, for eg. on cloudy (because its cloudy outside), is it a guarantee that my colours will be exactly as they looked and hence don't need to take it to an extra step in PP? But how do you know if what your lcd is showing are exactly the colours that were there, unless you confirm that in PP? (the cloudy setting warms up the photo globally, and it often doesn't look that saturated when viewing the scene with our eyes)
11-04-2012, 08:22 AM   #6
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As I see it - and I'm sure this might turn into a bigger discussion - color temperature and color tones are two separate but related things. I can shoot for a certain color temperature and then add/subtract a color cast in PP (along all or part of the exposure range) that may or may not be a typical color temperature related thing. Admittedly such photos no longer tend to be 'real', but they can enhance the emotion associated with the image. The two concepts are separate, but each can have an affect on the other. Can anybody explain it better?
11-04-2012, 09:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimJohnson Quote
As I see it - and I'm sure this might turn into a bigger discussion - color temperature and color tones are two separate but related things. I can shoot for a certain color temperature and then add/subtract a color cast in PP (along all or part of the exposure range) that may or may not be a typical color temperature related thing. Admittedly such photos no longer tend to be 'real', but they can enhance the emotion associated with the image. The two concepts are separate, but each can have an affect on the other. Can anybody explain it better?
Probably not.

White balancing is matching the color temperture of the lighting to the image. It makes sense to put white balancing early, sometimes before the real shot (custom WB in camera) or the first adjustment in post-processing. Some images absolutely require that - real estate, fashion, some wedding shots, etc. In those cases, the white balance is step one in getting the colors right, and without correct colors, the images are useless for the intended purpose.

But setting a perfect white balance every time will ruin exactly the color cast we look for in a sunset or sunrise. Sometimes the photographer is deliberately adding a color cast - like a gold reflector. I don't like to balance away all the cast of tungsten lighting either. Tungsten really is that yellow, and perfect white balance is not any more real IMO. Snow photos here in Colorado almost always have lots of blue, reflecting the sky, the same issue on the other end of the spectrum.

I would answer the original questions as "all of the above, depending on what your goal is". It seems like a dodge of the question, though.
11-06-2012, 11:02 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by voyager13 Quote
My questions are based upon a video I saw of Scott Kelby where he is telling you the steps towards PP and mentions WB as an important part of PP. That was a while ago but I think he must have mentioned a follow-up to doing it in-camera. But yes thats true, one needs to white balance in-camera before starting, though lets say we forgot that step or didn't do it for some reason, than you can do that in PP if there is a white, black or grey colour in the photo. Than comes my two questions.
If you shoot RAW, setting WB in camera is not necessary. It will affect the starting point for your PP, but you'll be able to get the exact same results regardless of where WB was set in camera. Not true for JPEG - the further off your WB is, the harder it will be to correct.

11-06-2012, 11:06 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by voyager13 Quote
Though I am still wondering if I set my white balance, for eg. on cloudy (because its cloudy outside), is it a guarantee that my colours will be exactly as they looked and hence don't need to take it to an extra step in PP?
"Exactly as they looked" is subjective. Everyone's eyes perform their own internal WB, and everyone does it a little differently. If the light is orange (eg, typical incandescent bulbs), then the color really *is* orange. It's just that your eyes fool you into thinking you seeing white and other colors. Setting WB tries to get your camera to perform the same lie your eyes perform, but again, its subjective. So no, there is no way a camera can reproduce the exact same lie your eyes are telling you. It will try to come close, though. So to a rough approximation, sure, setting WB in camera will get you kind of close to what you imagied yourself to have seen - to the lie your eyes told you. But you may still want to fine tune it in PP.
11-07-2012, 12:01 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
But you may still want to fine tune it in PP
Thanks for that confirmation Marc. I am still taking baby steps in some areas like white balancing and always shoot in RAW. I don't even think of white balancing when shooting (one thing less to think about) and leave it to AWB, so that if need be, and when is there not a need?, will take it to PP. My photos are coming out brilliantly doing that as I often do ACR adjustments in PP regarding how I saw the scene. I think something more important than white balancing is how well do we take a meter reading to expose in camera.
11-07-2012, 05:10 PM   #11
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Voyager:

Some points to consider with White Balance, color casts, etc. You CAN set your camera to AWB and leave it there, but then you may need to work harder to bring the colors back to a neutral point. If working with RAW files you have much more control over what happens with White balance as you bring it into IE (image editing) software. It is still a good point of reference to set it, as doing so with Pentax digital cameras is really quite easy. If working with JPG files, as was mentioned, it becomes more important to set the WB to a "proper" point. Every time you open and save a JPG file you may be loosing image information (i.e., pixels) and once changed, you may not be able to get them back. At least with a RAW file you can start over, at the very least!

"Proper", though, may be dependent on the image you are trying to produce. If you want to accentuate Reds and Yellows you will need to swing the WB to the Bluest setting (Cloudy usually). For blues, toward the Red/Yellow setting (incandescent). Color casts can be a result of the white balance or the lighting environment. A sunset will almost always appear Redder/Yellower than a noon day shot, even if the white balance is set accordingly. This is because the elements in the image are absorbing and reflecting light based on the dyes or pigments in the items (clothing, cars, painted walls, etc.). White balance really cannot change the characteristic of the subject. As an example, under a Yellowish light a dark blue sock will appear Black as there is not enough Blue energy in the light source to reflect back to us or the camera. The white balance will only apply an overall bias to the image for the sake of the whites (mostly).

QuoteOriginally posted by voyager13 Quote
Though I am still wondering if I set my white balance, for eg. on cloudy (because its cloudy outside), is it a guarantee that my colours will be exactly as they looked and hence don't need to take it to an extra step in PP?
Be very careful of this. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so color is in the interpretation of the capture device (e.g., camera). Each camera, even different models from the same manufacturer, will see/record color slightly differently. This is "device dependent" color. The colors will NEVER be exactly as you saw them becuase you see colors differently than the camera. You just want to be consistent when you capture your images. Colors from the image are effected by the sensor, the interpolation software/routines, the IE software, the output device, the output device driver, the ink/paper/substrate used, any over coatings, etc. This is why Color Management systems have been developed to help bring this problem under control.

If you think this should not be, keep in mind that YOUR color perception is effected by the light source, the temperature to your skin you perceive, what you ate/drank/smoked, who you just had an argument with, etc. Color is subjective across the board. And any two people see color differently. In imaging we simply adjust color to how we like it!

Regards,
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