Digital Photography: A Little More On White Balance

Digital Photography  WB Total

So, just a little recap, okay?

When you take a picture, even in camera RAW, your little computer inside of your digital camera will look at the image you’ve captured and say, “Okay, how is this picture supposed to look compared to the environment around it?” Or, “What is the White Balance supposed to be for this picture?”

When your camera looks at the picture you’ve taken, it will apply certain presets to find out what looks right for this particular picture and lighting scenario.

These settings are your White Balance Preset Settings. The camera will pick the one it thinks is most appropriate. You can look at your display and think, “I think it would look better like this instead.” After all you are the photographer, you get to tell the camera how you want your picture to look.

The images that follow are how your camera looks at the picture and what the presets will look like after your camera has applied its thinking to your pictures. Remember, the camera shouldn’t have the final say in your pictures, you should.

As good as modern digital camera sensors and processors are, you can usually get by with the “Auto” Setting, but you should know how to change the setting should the need arise.

The Custom White Balance Setting will usually allow you to dial in a degrees in Kelvin temperature setting, so that’s why it’s good to remember those numbers from earlier.

As a bonus treat for all the Camera RAW shooters out there, you can always set your White Balance to “Auto” and then set it to your desired temperature on your big computer screen at home without worry about your pictures. That’s just one of the many reasons you should shoot in Camera RAW instead of JPEG, if you have the option available.

So, just click on the first image below, then using the gallery arrows you can scroll through the gallery and see how the different White Balance Presets will change one particular image.



Digital Photography  WB Auto

Digital Photography  WB Daylight

Digital Photography  WB Shade

Digital Photography  WB Tungsten

Digital Photography  WB Fluorescent

Digital Photography  WB Flash

Digital Photography: Light and Temperature


Digital Photography MeSFRailyard 

Well. summer’s almost drawn to a close and fall is creeping up on us rapidly.  It seems like the perfect time to talk about the temperature.  Not the ambient temperature where you are, but the temperature of your colors…  Even the temperature of light.

Light is measured in degrees Kelvin and is based on a black-body standard.  Imagine a piece of iron laying on a forge.  The flames are kicking and the black iron bar begins to heat up.  As the iron heats initially, it glows a bright red.  The hotter the iron gets, it begins to glow orange, then it gets yellow.  Eventually, that yellow transforms into a burning white hot color, and the it turns blue.  This is how color is rated in photography.

What’s that have to do with my pictures, you ask?  Well, let me ask you a question.  Have you ever been flipping through the dials on your camera and saw some funny numbers like 5000K, 3200K, or 6500K?  If you answered yes, then you have discovered how to change the white balance setting on your camera.

Modern camera sensors do a fairly decent job of detecting and isolating light based on the color of the natural light filling an image, (the ambient light).  But, different light burns at different temperatures.  If you set the white balance in camera, then you’ll have less work to do when it comes to adjusting your image later.

Have you ever seen a picture taken under fluorescent lights?  Sometimes they come out a sickly green color.  A flash taken in a dark environment?  The light is a white to bluish color.  Why?  Because of the color temperature of the light in the image.

If you take a picture inside and find you don’t like the color cast or hue of the overall image that you’ve taken.  Get a little creative.  Experiment with the white balance settings on your camera.  Notice the changes that are made when you select different types of automatic adjustments.  Like the cloudy day white balance settings…  Notice how it warms up the image with a nice soft yellow touch?  It is trying to compensate for the amount of blue in the image by adding yellow to your picture.  Tungsten, notice how it turns everything in the image to a seriously deep shade of blue?  It is adding blue to the picture to try and balance out the amount of yellow coming from the tungsten lights.  Experiment for effect, and eventually, you’ll learn, if your camera is capable, how to dial in a custom color temperature setting to appropriately depict the environment you’re trying to capture in an image.

Just some gee whiz numbers to chew on…  The afternoon sun at 12 noon on a summer day is 5500 degrees Kelvin (5500K).  The yellow/orange glow given off by Tungsten lightbulbs?  About 3200-3500K.  Shade from a blue sky?  About 6500K.  An absolute rich blue sky?  About 10,000K.  (Notice, contrary to popular belief, blue is actually a hotter color than red or yellow, don’t get this confused.  It is not blue as in cold, but blue hot, which is a flame of an entirely different color.)  Have you ever heard of the golden hour?  This is when outdoor photographers like to get out and take most of their pictures.  The first hour after sunrise, and the last hour before sunset, the sky is a nice soft shade of orange/yellow, ideal for capturing the brilliant colors of the natural environment (3500K).

So, what does all of this mean?  When your camera takes a picture, it is trying to decide which is the right shade of white to apply to the image.  It is trying to decode and adjust your picture based on what it thinks should be white.  It is trying to pick an appropriate white balance setting. 

So, if you’re trying to figure out why your camera is making your pictures look funny with different colors when you take a picture indoors, it’s because of the camera’s white balance settings.  Figure out how to tweak these and you’ll be one step closer to making better pictures.

And now for something completely different…

I usually don’t do product plugs on my blog, but these two are definitely worth the time and the webspace.  Steve Krenz, author of the Learn & Master Guitar DVD Series has just released an email announcing the final release of a product I have waited for for over three years, since I first heard of it’s inception.  The product?  A video game called Guitar Apprentice, similar in style to the popular video game series Guitar Hero for all of the major video game consoles and systems.  The difference?  Guitar Apprentice is an accompaniment video track that allows you to play along on a real guitar!

Guitar Apprentice

The point should be made, this is not a true video game, as you do not have feedback coming from the game as you are playing.  You use a much more sensitive device for that feedback, your own ears.  The game will not teach you to read music, but it does allow for a new and creative way to improve muscle memory as you practice.  This week Gibson is offering the Beatle’s song “Get Back” for free.  More songs are available through their catalog.  I’ll be interested to see if this idea takes off.  I’ve been waiting a long time to see how it would play out.
I haven’t been this amped about the useful side of video games since the Phillip’s CD-Interactive released the Kodak sponsored video game system on 35mm Photography.


Digital Photography Motion In the Arena and On the Track

The Photoshop and photography Guru Scott Kelby once proclaimed something along the lines of “if you want to be a great sports photographer, the first thing you need is a really big wallet!”  And, he’s right on the money.

One of the most challenging aspects of shooting action photography in an outdoor arena is the time right between sunset and when the arena lights kick it up to full power.  Maybe you’ve had this happen before, you go to take your prize-winning photo, you line up the shot, press the shutter release, and click.  You check out your amazing photo on the display on the back of the camera and, “What in the world?”  Or something similar…  Nothing but blur!  Might as well put your camera up for the rest of the event, right?  Wrong.

Now, you’ve found the perfect time for panning.  Not for gold, but for that perfect action shot.  Here’s the concept…  The photographer is at a fixed point where he/she/it can take a picture with the subject, car/horse/ whatever is passing at pretty much the same distance from the photographer.  You have you magic focus ring manually adjusted for the approximate area you want to shoot, and the subject passes, as you press the shutter, you turn and keep the subject in the approximately same location in the frame as your shutter slowly opens and closes.  What this does, with enough practice, is allows you, the photographer, to keep the subject in focus while blurring the background scenery adding for some interesting motion effect.  So, how does it look?

Well, let’s look at what kind of picture led you to try this effect in the first place…


Digital Photography Time for panning

Now, here’s how it comes out with a little panning practice…

Digital Photography Time for panning 2

Remember, just because you don’t have the most expensive equipment, or the best equipment in the world, doesn’t mean you can’t have interesting photos.

A final word of caution, this technique takes some serious practice to develop, and I’ve still got a long way to go, so don’t get frustrated, and remember, they’re digital shots, so you can afford to experiment.

Good luck.

Digital Photography Gallery: Bikini Barrel Racing in Belen, NM, 2011

A new gallery: Bikini Barrel Racing in Belen 2011


The pictures below were taken as a last-minute schedule change just South of Albuquerque.   As I understand it, a young Hannah Wilkinson came out West with her family in the late 1870s.  One night, after hearing a strange bump in the night, young Hannah overheard another voice, “Colonel, there’s someone else in the house.”  And a young lady wrapped in just her nightgown barely managed to slip out the back window, where she jumped on her faithful pony “Bo”, and headed into town for help, dodging marauders, Indians and outlaws.  So, today, in honor of young Hannah’s bravery, scantily clad female riders mount ponies and dodge barrels…  Alright, you caught me, it’s all hooey.  Bikini Barrel Racing is certainly one way to boost ticket sales.  And, it’s an event you just don’t get to see everyday…  A total of 31 timed trails competing for the 20 best times to run in the evening slot.  Grand prize, the saddle hanging over the chute/arena entrance.  The winner, the audience, of course…

Continue reading Digital Photography Gallery: Bikini Barrel Racing in Belen, NM, 2011

Digital Photography Windows Camera RAW Plugin/Update Information

One of the things I adnire most about Eva, Eva Palmer, is as a hypnotherapist she is able to ask the right questions at the right time to get to the most basic parts of a situation. After her question yesterday, I realized that even what’s considered basic for some is not basic for all. So today, I wanted to take a little time and explain exactly what the new Microsoft Windows Update means for the computer user.

What is a camera RAW file? A camera RAW file is a type of file that is owned by the company that makes your camera. Two common types of RAW files are Canon CR2 files and Nikon NEF files.

When Windows looks at a file on your computer, it looks at the letters after the dot _____.jpg, _______.gif, _____.bmp, ______.tif

After it sees the type of file it is, it then thinks to its computer brain, “Hey, this is a JPEG (_____.jpg), which is a type of picture file. Since it’s a picture, I’m going to use __________, this picture program to open it.”

Now, we all know computers can’t think, yet, but for me, this is the easiest way to explain it.

Windows has taken the most popular types of picture files and, since it recognizes them as pictures, the program thinks to itself, “Since this is a picture and people are used to looking at pictures, instead of at the names of pictures, I’m going to show them a thumbnail preview of what this picture looks like.” This way, it is much easier to see what picutures are in a particular folder, or on a CD, or a memory card.

Every camera manufacturer I can think of that makes RAW files, has their own brand of RAW files. Olympus, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, etc. For whatever reason, the folks at Microsoft thought this was a lot of information, or too much information to keep track of, and they’re right. It is.

If the camera makers want their own particular brand of Camera RAW files, they should be the ones providing the necessary updates to Windows and Apple for their RAW files to play nice with the computer systems that people are using.

I’ve mentioned many times before why RAW files are more user-friendly for people who take their pictures seriously. So, I won’t go into that again.

If you’ve looked at your directory or folder in Windows and you’ve seen something like this:

Digital Photography Windows Sample 1

Or this:

Digital Photography Windows Sample 2

And then you thought “Why doesn’t Windows recognize my pictures?” This was probably the reason why. After following the link below, and applying the plugin for Windows, Windows will recognize the pictures from all of these cameras as pictures, and you will be able to see a thumbnail preview of the pictures instead of just the names of the pictures.

Cameras covered by Microsoft’s new Camera RAW Update/Plugin:
◦Canon: EOS 1000D (EOS Kiss F in Japan and the EOS Rebel XS in North America), EOS 10D, EOS 1D Mk2, EOS 1D Mk3, EOS 1D Mk4, EOS 1D Mk2 N, EOS 1Ds Mk2, EOS 1Ds Mk3, EOS 20D, EOS 300D (the Kiss Digital in Japan and the Digital Rebel in North America) , EOS 30D, EOS 350D (the Canon EOS Kiss Digital N in Japan and EOS Digital Rebel XT in North America), EOS 400D (the Kiss Digital X in Japan and the Digital Rebel XTi in North America), EOS 40D, EOS 450D (EOS Kiss X2 in Japan and the EOS Rebel XSi in North America), EOS 500D (EOS Kiss X3 in Japan and the EOS Rebel T1i in North America), EOS 550D (EOS Kiss X4 in Japan, and as the EOS Rebel T2i in North America), EOS 50D, EOS 5D, EOS 5D Mk2, EOS 7D, EOS D30, EOS D60, G2, G3, G5, G6, G9, G10, G11, Pro1, S90

◦Nikon: D100, D1H, D200, D2H, D2Hs, D2X, D2Xs, D3, D3s, D300, D3000, D300s, D3X, D40, D40x, D50, D5000, D60, D70, D700, D70s, D80, D90, P6000

◦Sony: A100, A200, A230, A300, A330, A350, A380, A700, A850, A900, DSC-R1

◦Olympus: C7070, C8080, E1, E10, E20, E3, E30, E300, E330, E400, E410, E420, E450, E500, E510, E520, E620, EP1

◦Pentax (PEF formats only): K100D, K100D Super, K10D, K110D, K200D, K20D, K7, K-x, *ist D, *ist DL, *ist DS

◦Leica: Digilux 3, D-LUX4, M8, M9

◦Minolta: DiMage A1, DiMage A2, Maxxum 7D (Dynax 7D in Europe, α-7 Digital in Japan)

◦Epson: RD1

◦Panasonic: G1, GH1, GF1, LX3

So, now, if you own any of the cameras listed above, after you install the update, Windows will recognize all of the pictures taken with these cameras as pictures, even if they’re RAW or JPEG files.

Microsoft Camera RAW Download