Any tips on refining WB for skin when the BG is green/yellow?

crimbfighter

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So, for years now I have struggled in setting the WB to what looks correct for skin tones when the frame is dominated with greens and yellows, usually in the BG. During the late summer and fall this is more of an issue and when there is little or no direct light (which I'm sure effects how the cameras color meter reads ambient light). When using natural light, the camera's auto WB tends to set the WB to a pretty cool skin tone when there are greens and yellows in the BG. Then, when I try to manually adjust it in post, I just really seem to struggle finding a good balance. Warming the WB tends to make the entire image feel too yellow. Auto WB in Lightroom never seems to get it right. Using the dropper on the whites of the eye almost always makes the image way too warm or green. I'm kind of at a loss, and editing this last session which was outdoors, in the woods, with tons of yellows has put me over the edge! :BangHead:

So, has anyone found a good technique for adjusting the WB in post with this type of situation? Also, setting a custom WB in the field usually isn't practical due to constantly changing locations with varying light and BG's...
 

jaomul

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Set your wb before you shoot with a custom wb set off a grey card, its quick and easy and accurate
 

Scatterbrained

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A couple of thoughts: If you can't get find something in the frame that is a neutral white or grey, then try selecting a WB preset that most closely matches the situation, then tune to taste. Bear in mind that if you're using Adobe Lr/ACR it's possible that the Adobe Standard Camera Profile is mucking up your pictures. I find that in scenes with a ton of foliage the only way to get my colors right from the off is to switch to the Camera Neutral Profile. If you feel like you're getting close, but not quite there, they take the image into Ps and adjust the skin specifically: http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93363
 

Ysarex

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Shoot a WB target, auto WB doesn't work and LR is not very helpful when it comes to sampling colors for info (you only get RGB values).

Joe
 

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Not sure if this will help you, but besides the above tips at the suggestion of @Vtec44 I recently started using a shot where I know the skin tones are what I want to match then I zoom in so all I can see is skin tones and adjust accordingly. The shots aren't from the same session but I have been using the same shot as my "baseline" for skin tones.
 

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Not sure if this will help you, but besides the above tips at the suggestion of @Vtec44 I recently started using a shot where I know the skin tones are what I want to match then I zoom in so all I can see is skin tones and adjust accordingly. The shots aren't from the same session but I have been using the same shot as my "baseline" for skin tones.

That Vtec44 guy knows what he's doing. :D
 

JustJazzie

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Not sure if this will help you, but besides the above tips at the suggestion of @Vtec44 I recently started using a shot where I know the skin tones are what I want to match then I zoom in so all I can see is skin tones and adjust accordingly. The shots aren't from the same session but I have been using the same shot as my "baseline" for skin tones.

That Vtec44 guy knows what he's doing. :D

He's not just a pretty face you know! ;-)
 
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crimbfighter

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Set your wb before you shoot with a custom wb set off a grey card, its quick and easy and accurate

This is kind of what I was hoping to avoid... I tend to shoot a lot of candid stuff, or taking one or two photos and moving to a new location. Often even changing the direction the camera is pointed by 90 degrees will completely alter the WB needed. For me, and my style of shooting, I think it's just too cumbersome to keep resetting a custom WB. Thank you for the suggestion, though, I appreciate the feedback.

A couple of thoughts: If you can't get find something in the frame that is a neutral white or grey, then try selecting a WB preset that most closely matches the situation, then tune to taste. Bear in mind that if you're using Adobe Lr/ACR it's possible that the Adobe Standard Camera Profile is mucking up your pictures. I find that in scenes with a ton of foliage the only way to get my colors right from the off is to switch to the Camera Neutral Profile. If you feel like you're getting close, but not quite there, they take the image into Ps and adjust the skin specifically: http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93363

I hadn't thought about the color profiles effecting anything. Perhaps I'll look into that more. Thanks! I have at times adjusted skin tone using a layer if PS, it's just so time consuming when I have 200+ photos to get through...

Shoot a WB target, auto WB doesn't work and LR is not very helpful when it comes to sampling colors for info (you only get RGB values).

Joe

I may in fact start using reference photos with a color check card.. It seems like that may be the most accurate solution.

Not sure if this will help you, but besides the above tips at the suggestion of @Vtec44 I recently started using a shot where I know the skin tones are what I want to match then I zoom in so all I can see is skin tones and adjust accordingly. The shots aren't from the same session but I have been using the same shot as my "baseline" for skin tones.

That's not a bad idea, thanks for the suggestion. I could pretty easily create a bank of reference photos. You mention zooming in to set skin tones, and one thing I find is that if I do that, there is often still an overall balance issue with the rest of the frame. If it's dominated by greens and yellows, and I adjust the WB to target just skin, then the rest of the frame is overpowering with very warm yellows..

That Vtec44 guy knows what he's doing. :D

Ain't that the truth!
 

Vtec44

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I shoot a lot in the forest and it can be a pain correcting skin tone. Auto WB will be overwhelmed by the reflected light and even a color card doesn't really give you an accurate reading to the skin tone that you want (closer but still way off IMHO). You still need to fine tune it since skin tone varies due to the photographer's personal preference. I do all of my skin tone correction in Lightroom with a combination of in camera custom WB, manual Kelvin per scene, and past reference of my own "perfected" samples. WB will change the color of the entire scene but LR also allows you to adjust each individual color within the scene, then add tint to the highlights. The skin is typically the brighter part of a scene, so adjusting highlights can affect the tone. The color orange is typically the main color for skin tone adjustment. Also, assuming that you're doing all this on a calibrated monitor. There is no easy way, no presets that will automatically fix it for you. It can be a tedious and time consuming process, depending on your work flow.
 
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The_Traveler

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If there is enough resolution, you can use the whites of the eye (the sclera) as a reference.
In infants the sclera are a milky white and that color changes gradually over a person's lifetime with age and health.
Sclera may have the very slightest bluish tinge, almost inperceptable, in normal healthy infants and children.
IMO, in pictures taken outside, you can often seen children with a distinct bluish cast while the skin is vaguely OK.
When that bluish tint is used a marker to use for a global adjustment of color, the skin will take on a much healthy hue.
 

Ysarex

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I shoot a lot in the forest and it can be a pain correcting skin tone. Auto WB will be overwhelmed by the reflected light and even a color card doesn't really give you an accurate reading (closer but still way off IMHO).

A reference card (spectrally neutral) always gives you an accurate reading of the light color at the location of the card.

Joe

You still need to fine tune it since skin tone varies due to the photographer's personal preference. I do all of my skin tone correction in Lightroom with a combination of in camera custom WB, manual Kelvin per scene, and past reference of my own "perfected" samples. WB will change the color of the entire scene but LR also allows you to adjust each individual color within the scene, then add tint to the highlights. The skin is typically the brighter part of a scene, so adjusting highlights can affect the tone. The color orange is typically the main color for skin tone adjustment. Also, assuming that you're doing all this on a calibrated monitor. There is no easy way, no presets that will automatically fix it for you. It can be a tedious and time consuming process, depending on your work flow.
 

Vtec44

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A reference card (spectrally neutral) always gives you an accurate reading of the light color at the location of the card.

....and the light color at the location of the card is not always pleasant for the skin tone. That's the issue. LOL
 
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crimbfighter

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I shoot a lot in the forest and it can be a pain correcting skin tone. Auto WB will be overwhelmed by the reflected light and even a color card doesn't really give you an accurate reading (closer but still way off IMHO). You still need to fine tune it since skin tone varies due to the photographer's personal preference. I do all of my skin tone correction in Lightroom with a combination of in camera custom WB, manual Kelvin per scene, and past reference of my own "perfected" samples. WB will change the color of the entire scene but LR also allows you to adjust each individual color within the scene, then add tint to the highlights. The skin is typically the brighter part of a scene, so adjusting highlights can affect the tone. The color orange is typically the main color for skin tone adjustment. Also, assuming that you're doing all this on a calibrated monitor. There is no easy way, no presets that will automatically fix it for you. It can be a tedious and time consuming process, depending on your work flow.

I was really hoping you were gonna say "download this preset and it will solve all your problems" :allteeth: If only...

Thanks for the suggestions. I do calibrate my monitor, too. I found that to be a necessity early on..

I do like the idea of keeping reference photos. It's hard to recreate a look without a standard with which to compare it to. I also like your suggestion of using the orange chanel adjustment more. I have found myself using the yellow and green channels to effect the background to balance the frame rather than adjusting the skin tone.

If there is enough resolution, you can use the whites of the eye (the sclera) as a reference.
In infants the sclera are a milky white and that color changes gradually over a person's lifetime with age and health.
Sclera may have the very slightest bluish tinge, almost inperceptable, in normal healthy infants and children.
IMO, in pictures taken outside, you can often seen children with a distinct bluish cast while the skin is vaguely OK.
When that bluish tint is used a marker to use for a global adjustment of color, the skin will take on a much healthy hue.

It seems like every time I try that, the WB goes super warm with a green tint. Not sure why that is..
 

Ysarex

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A reference card (spectrally neutral) always gives you an accurate reading of the light color at the location of the card.

....and the light color at the location of the card is not always pleasant for the skin tone. That's the issue. LOL

Ah, ok -- so you didn't really mean accurate then. Got it. ;)

Joe
 
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crimbfighter

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A reference card (spectrally neutral) always gives you an accurate reading of the light color at the location of the card.

....and the light color at the location of the card is not always pleasant for the skin tone. That's the issue. LOL
I actually wondered about that. Depending on where you hold the card it could drastically effect the colors of the skin. The reflected light halfway between camera and subject might be different than the light falling ON the subject, depending on th source, etc. I suppose having them hold the card right by their face would be best? Haha
 

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