Landscapes and Custom White Balance

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ladshead, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. ladshead

    ladshead TPF Noob!

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    I'm trying to get my head around a problem I am experiencing when using custom white balance for landscapes.

    When I use custom white balance as opposed to automatic, all of my photographs have a yellow cast. I know that this can be removed in post processing but I want to get it right first time.

    I have only been using a white piece of paper and have a Lastolite grey balance card in the post, assuming that it will make my balance more accurate.

    How do professional digital landscape photographers calculate white balance?

    Your help and advice would be massively appreciated.
     
  2. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    This sounds like a dumb question but: Why be concerned with custom white balance?

    A lot of landscapes are shot with warming polarizers, magenta filters and enhancement filters and they are showing up in publications and galleries all over the place. Even software filters in postprocessing are duplicating the colour of light in the early morning or late afternoon. Colour correction is often done to individual sections of the photo rather than globally through white balance adjustments.

    So, why customize the white balance and then totally manipulate the colour through filters and postprocessing?

    skieur
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I shoot in RAW and just leave the WB on auto most of the time. When it comes time to process landscape shots, I'm very rarely worried about accurate WB. I just adjust it so that it looks best, or portrays the mood that I want to show in the image.
     
  4. CSR Studio

    CSR Studio TPF Noob!

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    I do the same as Mike, shoot in RAW with WB on auto. I almost always use a polarizer on landscapes.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As someone who shoots a LOT of out-of-doors/nature/landscape work, I will have to disagree with my learned colleagues. I ALWAYS set a custom white balance. Granted, you're going to adjust your image for what looks best, and as mentioned, I invariably have a CPOL on my lens, but does anyone really want yellow snow in their mountains?

    I've found the Expodisc to provide excellent results in pretty much all (except low-light) shooting situations. It's a little pricey (> $100 in 77mm) but it works well.
     
  6. dleightley

    dleightley TPF Noob!

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    RAW is the way to go, Like above I also shoot in RAW and where I need to I will rework the white balance, but not all the time.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I know of a dPreview Fuji d-slr Forum landscaper who goes by the name of Claypaws, and over there he has twice posted on his white balance method. I am sure you can do a search in the Fujifilm d-sl forum on the term Claypaws white balance method, and come up with his posts, which have numerous excellent samples showing the benefit of shooting to a custom white balance that makes things look the way you want them to look.

    Basically, his method involves shooting a white target outdoors in cloudy,late afternoon light and having that as a white balance pre-set. I myself when I used to shoot the Fuji S2 Pro camera, often white balanced off of a white-painted metal deck chair in the mid-evening hours, and saved that as a WB preset.

    One problem with white balancing to the prevailing light is that in some cases, it strips away the color of the light that is actually there, rendering beautiful evening light as flat, mundane noon daylight looking dreck. A fair amount of the demosaicing of the sensor data is based upon having a decent white balance entered into the camera at the time of shooting, so there *are* some good reasons for setting a white balance if accuracy is what you want; the thing the Claypaws white balance method does is to preserve a lot of the character of the light; his sample photos show the validity of the method.
     
  8. Allyn

    Allyn TPF Noob!

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    I'd have to agree with the people voting for RAW, there's really no substitute.

    Not to say that creating a custom white balance isn't a good thing, it can save you quite a bit of tweaking later on, but shooting in RAW and having the ability to manually adjust the white balance as you see fit is the way most of those professional landscape shots end up looking so good.
     
  9. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    White balance is a creative tool. In many landscape shots all manner of non-neutral white balances are used to achieve various effects. Getting white balance neutral is something often done in a studio.

    You mentioned that you're white balancing off a white sheet of paper? How white? Injet paper? Because Injet paper is actually blue. What about laser paper? Most of it is so thin that I'll pick up slight colour variations from what is behind it.

    You have a grey card that you use in post? Why don't you custom white balance of that?
     
  10. andrew99

    andrew99 TPF Noob!

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    It sounds like the piece of paper that you're using as a reference is not pure white.

    Just don't eat the yellow snow!
     
  11. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My interest in the topic is really more for portraits than for landscapes, but white balance is white balance. Like others in the thread, I mostly shoot RAW in auto white balance, then correct as necessary later with Lightroom and/or Photoshop.

    I've been hemming and hawing to buy this for a while now:

    PhotoVision: Product List

    I just really hate to spend $60 for 3 tones of fabric on a collapsible hoop if I can work out something less expensive to do the same job. :p If anyone here is using it, I'd love to read about your experience with them.

    By the way, if anyone has inexpensive sources for gray cards or, even better, 18% color neutral gray fabric, color checker cards, etc., that would be a great help to me and probably a lot of other folks here, including the OP. From checking around online, you'd think they're all made from gold, platinum and diamond trim!

    Anyway, I was sitting here thinking about the piece of paper not being true white, as discussed above, and it occurred to me that my shoot-through umbrellas would be color-neutral white and would serve that purpose well, wouldn't they? In addition, my intent is mostly for getting a color balance shot at the beginning of a portrait session that I can then use on the rest of the shots for that shoot in post, which means I've already got the umbrella set up and ready to use as a white balance reference, in most cases.

    There's also the white fabric that makes the screens on my soft boxes - they would be color-neutral white as well, wouldn't they?

    And, while I'm sort of on the subject, anyone know where to get quantities of color-neutral white rip stop nylon for making large light panels?
     
  12. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I with Tirediron I use the Expodisc. Better that white paper are white coffee filters. Have also heard of people using Pringle tops as well. I do shoot RAW as well but, I prefer getting it right first. I know old fashioned to some but hey it is what it is.
     

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