Setting white balance correctly for weddings and portraits

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by NJMAN, May 15, 2007.

  1. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    This may be a little off topic, but I have a 2-fold question that I need input from the lighting experts.

    1. What can I do to set white balance properly on the camera if there is a mixture of flourescent and tungsten lighting in, say for example, a dimly lit church, so that the blacks look appropriately black, the whites look appropriately white, and the skin tones look realistic?

    2. What can I do to adjust the white balance properly in RAW afterward as a result of shooting in a mixture of flourescent and tungsten lighting, and the camera was not set properly?

    I have been shooting in Auto white balance, and I dont want to do that anymore, since I have been disappointed most of the time by the results.

    Also, if anyone could post any "before and after" photos where the white was corrected along with an explanation on what you did, that would be tremendously helpful! :D

    Thanks!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    To set an accurate WB, all you need to do, is shoot something white under your lighting and then use that image to set a custom WB. I've heard that a grey card will also work for the same purpose. Or, you could shoot something white, a grey card (or one of those exposure & color cards) in the light. Then, in post processing, eye dropper that image and apply that color temp to all the images shot in that light.

    That's all well and good when the light is odd but consistent. Often, you will find that different parts of the room are lit by different types of light. Then you throw in your own flash and it can really mess things up. You may need/want to put a gel on your flash, to make it match the existing light.

    I have always used auto WB and adjusted it after (shooting RAW). Sometimes it's more difficult than other times but there is usually somthing white (a collar or shirt) to click on, which will usually set it pretty well.

    I will usually, play around with the color temp until I find something that works, then I will copy/paste that setting to all of the shots from that part of the shoot. That way, they are all consistent.

    Of course, you should have a calibrated monitor to start with.
     
  3. Stretch Armstrong

    Stretch Armstrong TPF Noob!

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    And the 30d has a custom white balance feature on it. I have been reading about it. You can use that feature to do what Mike just said.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Peniole

    Peniole TPF Noob!

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    The only place I've dealt with that kind of mixed lighting is here in my lab, I got a white piece of paper (certain shades of grey also work) and did a manual white balance (the procedure differs from camera to camera, and most save more than one manual setting that you can call up without having to do it again).

    1. Although this is from my old P+S this is what it would typically look like if I didn't manually balance.
    [​IMG]

    2. Manual white balance, whish I had the pic before I did the balance but it's long gone. You get the idea though. (My friend hard at work)
    [​IMG]

    As for RAW, I haven't done too much RAW, but usually a change in colour balance and brightness does it for me.
     
  5. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Thats a great example. Thanks!

    Just a side note though, I am having a problem specifically with correcting the mixture of flourescent AND tungsten, which not only gives off an orange tint, but also a nasty pale green. I cant seem to correct the white balance well enough when I have those 2 tints together. ugh!
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    That's the toughest situation because no one setting is all the way right. In this case, I either; pick something that is a compromise between the two, choose which is more important (foreground vs background etc) or to really get it all right I might use layer masks in Photoshop, so that I can edit different parts of the image separately.
     
  7. Peniole

    Peniole TPF Noob!

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    That's exactly the example I posted, we have tungesten spots and flourescent long bulbs. I find a place where both will shine on the paper then do the manual balance, the camera comes up with a reasonable compromise. Good luck :)
     
  8. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    The very best thing to do is a custom white balance. Use a meter. If not, use an ExpoDisc to give you a true reading, but beware, it only wb for wherever they end up though. If they are walking past stained glass you will end up with natural light, tungsten, and floresent. And to make matters worse, a lot of the time the dresses aren't pure white anymore. They are bone, or champagne, or whatever and you can't trust it as a tru white.
    A light meter is confusing at first, but your very best friend. A good one will cost you about 500 bucks, but it's worth every penny in Post.
     
  9. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    I figured you might say something like that, Mike. :wink: So much for taking the quick route. I guess it all comes down to spending the time needed to deal with tough situations. At least now I have a stronger understanding about white balance and its nuances for my next shoot. Thanks Mike and everyone else for your input!

    Thanks Cindy. But $500, wow, thats pretty steep for a light meter. I think I will need to secure some more paid gigs first before I can justify that kind of cost. Your tips are very appreciated though.
     
  10. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't suppose it is possible to turn one of the sources off (preferably the least pleasing fluro). I did that when doing advertisement photography for a cafe, but it may not suit the situation. If you can't there is one option. Shoot with flash, but gel the flash colour to tungsten. That way it may be possible to overpower the ugly fluorescent colour.
     
  11. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Not sure about using a meter for white balance? I've never heard of that....

    A sheet of white paper, a grey card, or an expodisc are all reasonable options however in your changing light, I'd say set white balance for one of the lights. Then shoot RAW. Then the best place to amend the WB would be in your RAW converter. The spot tool for white balance is very easy to use. You may be able to batch a few images together to speed up the amendments.

    I use lightroom and can colour correct all my images very quickly. I'm really impressed with it.
     
  12. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    No, Im pretty sure it would not be possible to turn off certain lights in a church or a reception hall for a big event like that, and I think I would feel funny asking. I have been doing some reading on gels though, and I like that idea. With the limited experience I have in correcting the white balance in RAW, it seems to be easier to tweak the colors if I get rid of the green tints first, and just deal with the orange tints primarily.

    Dont get me wrong JD, I want to do the best job possible, I just have a hard time justifying a $500 purchase if I can just use the tools that are available to me on the camera to set a custom white balance. I would feel much more comfortable spending the money if I can get some more paid jobs first. Then I see it more as an investment. And as I stated, I like the idea of using the gel. Thanks for the tips though. Im getting better in PP the more I practice and experiment. Thanks!

    One thing I also wanted to mention, I posted 9 galleries (about 125 photos) of my best work from this wedding, and I am getting many orders for prints from the family members who attended! woo hoo!
     

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