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Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 01:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I hate to take up 3 posts on here, but since these are my first three, bear with me. I switched from film to digital recently, and have had a few issues I wanted some help with. On a shoot I did last week, I shot film and digital. I gelled my two front lights, and my rear hairlight. The camera was set for auto white balance, and I shot in RAW mode. I had assumed I can just set the temp in Photoshop since I shoot raw. Now, becuase of a mistake on my part, the camera was set to a higher ISO than my meter, and so the highlights in her hair blew out a bit. On my film shots, everything is perfect, and you can easily see a nice warm hairlight and warm skin tones. On my digital, the hairlight looks white (not gelled) and I assume this is due to it being overexposed. But, even on some shots that didn't get overexposed, it still looks like there was no gel.

So, am I wrong to assume I can keep my camera on auto white balance and set the temp in Photoshop? Even when I set it warmer in Photoshop, it warms up the overall photo, but not the hairlight or any of the hotter lights, when my film shots are coming out perfect.

If I should not keep the camera on auto white balance, what should I do when I am shooting using strobe inside? Set it on flash? Will this negate my gels?

On the same topic, with film, I shoot with an 81a or b on the lens sometimes. When I shoot digital, I never do, because again, I assume I can warm it up in the raw plugin. Should I shoot with the filter, or are warming filters a waste on digital cameras when shooting in raw mode?

Thanks for the help. Here is a photo from the shoot. Feel free to give me some criticism on the photo while you are at it.


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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 01:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If you are shooting RAW, you should be able to set the correct white balance in PS. I think that the only reason that you are not seeing te correct color on the hairlight is due to it being blown out.

My thought is that warming filters are un-necessary with digital...just do it in PS or with a manual white balance setting.

Using Auto is fine for RAW, but I like to set mine to Flash, Cloudy, or whatever is closest to the light I am shooting. I know it doesn't matter, but it keeps me in the habit so that I don't forget when I am not shooting RAW. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 01:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I would check the numbers in photoshop, before any editing to see if there is any detail that you might be able to bring back in. Sometimes you will be surprised that there is detail. This can also depend on the camera.


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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 02:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If you want to create the same look in digital that you are getting on film then set your white balance on daylight. That will be the same approximate temperature that film is set at. To warm it up a little from that setting use cloudy or for even more warmth use the shade setting. The look will be very similar to film as long as the highlights aren't blown out. You can check for this in the raw converter by holding down the alt button (windows) while adjusting the exposure slider. Additionally, you can check your black point the same way with the shadow slider.
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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 01:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I always set my camera to Custom White Balance (CWB). Even though I usually shoot RAW, you still want your WB correct, and CWB is the only way to go. If you depend on any of the presets, you'll find that when comparing them (even in RAW) to CWB that the CWB photos have the better color balance. And keep in mind that even when shooting with RAW, you still have a imbedded JPEG on most cameras that will be used for the LCD image and the preview image in many browsers, so you want the color close so you can judge which images to work with.
Cheers,
rfs
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My two cents on the subject
Old 02-07-2005, 01:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you are shooting RAW you can set the white balance in Photoshop, for each picture. Lots of unnecessary work in my opinion.

You could just use auto white balance but it does not provide shot to shot consistancy and may nullify any gels you may be using.

A preset white balance will give you shot to shot consistancy and will not nullify gels but may not match the color temperature of the lights, but it will get close.

A custom white balance, before applying gels, will get you the best results, consistancy, correct color and gel effects which match what you are expecting.

If you do it right when you take the picture it will save much times later.
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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 02:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with the folks suggesting a custom WB. It only takes a second and the colors will be consistant and save you a lot of post production work.

Paul
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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 04:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, it sounds like I should be setting a custom white balace for each shoot. From what I read, assuming an indoor/strobe setup with gelled lights, I should be setting the white balance with the stobes in place but without gels on, and then adding the gels to the lights after the white balance is set. Now I just need to read up on how to set a custom white balance. :-) Thank you all for the help.
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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 06:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I shot at one of Rolando's workshops with the daylight preset and it worked OK. I was a little disappointed at how the colors turned out. One of the big things I learned is it is better to under-expose digital than over. And colors are better if it just slightly under.

This last weekend I read how to do custom white balance on my Nikon D70 and went and bought a grey card at the local photography store. I used it on some shooting I did and the colors were much better.

When you read the directions it seems very confusing, but turned out to be very simple once I understood what was going on. They actually design the camera to make it easy to do. You go into white balance menu and set it to Preset. Once you do this one of the buttons on the back - it has WB over it - becomes a "setter" button. Press it until the camera says PRE in the view finder and top panel. Point it at the gray card. Press the shutter button and it will set the white balance. The camera will tell you Good if you did it right. If you change lights, just repeat.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Auto white balance or not?
Old 02-07-2005, 10:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
One of the big things I learned is it is better to under-expose digital than over. And colors are better if it just slightly under.

[/ QUOTE ]

Actually it's better to correctly expose than either of the above. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]

And except for models wearing white outfits, I'm overexposing by about 1/6 of a stop.

Paul
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