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how to take pictures without blue skin?


TPF Noob!
Feb 20, 2012
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I keep hearing that pale blue skin in photos looks dead flesh. So I do I avoid this? From experience, the even after the sun goes down is bad, and right before is good. But other than that, I'm not sure how to get what I want.
I think I have white balance issues, but I'm too new to know. I have it set in cloud mode on a Nikon D3200.

It's not blue. It may be very slightly underexposed and you can adjust the white balance to your own taste.... But that isn't dead looking skin tone.
Do you calibrate your monitor?
Well, whatever you do, stay AWAY FROM the planet Pandora!!!!
I think I have white balance issues, but I'm too new to know. I have it set in cloud mode on a Nikon D3200.

You have somehow stripped the EXIF, so we'll have to guess about some things. It really doesn't look terrible for WB, so maybe your own display is off. When you view other people's photographs on here do you still get the blue tint?
I think I have white balance issues, but I'm too new to know. I have it set in cloud mode on a Nikon D3200.

Set your white balance to auto. "Cloud Mode" is for cloudy days. Auto white balance does great in almost every situation. Then, since you don't know what underexposed is, go to the library and check out a basic photography book. It can even be a film photography book. The basics of exposure are the same. Check out the beginner section of www.improvephotography.com. Oh, and read your entire camera manual... Not just the quick start guide.

Once you've done that, shoot some more and keep posting. It's hard for a forum to teach you the very basics of exposure and your camera. Learn those and we can help you improve. Good luck.
You don't mention which camera you are using. However, most modern digital cameras have reached the point where they have an Auto White Balance selection which is about 95% reliable.

Their most obvious issues come when you are photographing a pure white subject which is more a matter of exposure values than color balance. That's another thread and the subject has been discussed many times in the forum. Check the archives for more on photographing pure white or black objects.

You can, as you become more experienced, use your camera's white balance selections to create or correct for the lighting conditions which prevail at the time of your photo.

If you are a fairly new student to photography, just rely on your auto white balance setting until you get a bit more knowledge and experience under your belt.

Are you aware of whether your camera has the ability to shoot in "RAW"?

Any modern DSLR will have this option though many lower cost digital cameras may not.

If you can shoot in RAW capture, white balance effects as set at the camera are rather benign as you have large latitudes in your post production work to realign color balance. Therefore, shooting in RAW makes the color work dependent on your monitor and your printer for color accuracy (or as close as most consumer equipment can come to "accurate").

If your camera does not allow RAW to be selected or lacks RAW completely as a possibility, then you are shooting in Jpeg mode. (Realize when you select certain functions on your camera such as "Digital Zoom", the camera will de-select the RAW option as this type of function can only be accomplished by the camera when it is in Jpeg mode.)

On my Canons these formats (RAW and Jpeg) are selected in the "Functions" menu and not in the main menu. If you are unfamiliar with this setting on your camera, grab your owner's manual and head to the index to locate data on Jpeg and RAW. Read what your manual has to say about this setting as it can be very important to your photographic results.

If your camera is shooting in Jpeg mode, then the camera is making multiple adjustments to the image you will see on your LCD screen and your computer monitor.

You have some control over these adjustments and you have the ability to set a "look" for your camera that is pleasing to you and, if you prefer, closer to the real world colors you saw when you were taking the photo. How each manufacturer deals with their Jpeg formulas is slightly unique to each manufacturer so there is no set rule for making these adjustments. You need to come to an understanding of your own camera and how it operates by default. This is one of your first steps toward becoming a better photographer, knowing how to control your camera and not allowing the camera to control you.

How these Jpeg adjustments are done is spelled out in your owner's manual so spend some time with it and your camera one night just playing and pushing buttons. Take plenty of test shots as you can always delete images on a digital camera.

When you do these test shots, remember the predominant lighting source for your test shots will alter the look of your photos. Even using auto white balance under fluorescent lighting will not provide a truly accurate image quality. Largely, that is true for incandescent lighting also. To really understand color balance you need to do some test shots in daylight. Slightly cloudy daylight or light shade is best but, definitely, daylight is your only "accurate" lighting source.

You can, if you wish, buy a color test sheet from any photographic supply house which you can use for the most accurate set up of your camera, monitor and printer. However if you do not own a fairly sophisticated monitor or printer, you may not have the adjustment range required to bring them to a highly accurate setting.

If that's the case, you can use more common items to make your adjustments. You can use household objects which you feel are representative of the primary colors for your test subjects. Photograph these objects in daylight though or you'll have your camera set up for a situation it won't see in day to day use.

Buy a box of crayons or children's water colors and take photos of the pieces which are closest to true colors. What you see from your camera (in Jpeg) should be as close as possible to what you see in real life. If they are not, then you can make adjustments in your camera.

The same applies to your monitor and printer, adjust each to output the best representation of the color you see in real life.

As you are adjusting your monitor, remember that your viewing angle relative to the center of the screen can change the apparent brightness and color balance you see. As will the overriding lighting you are using as you make these adjustments.

If you are adjusting your monitor while incandescent lights are your predominant lighting source, the incandescent light falling on your monitor screen will affect what you see on your screen. Bright daylight shining through a window and hitting your monitor screen will also change the look of the monitor. So work in daylight conditions but keep the light from hitting your monitor screen. Your monitor screen should be adjusted so you eyes are "on axis" with the center of the monitor screen for the most "correct" adjustments.

Even if you don't own the most professional gear, you can make adjustments to your photos knowing just how your equipment presents colors and exposure. Have your printer set to its highest resolution and "RGB" color balance. No need to set the printer to "sRGB".

So, to recap; set your camera to RAW, if possible.

Use auto white balance.

If you are shooting in Jpeg, check your owner's manual for instructions regarding how to adjust color balance and saturation levels.

Use known references.

Use sources shot under daylight conditions to check and adjust your equipment.

If you happen to get your camera or monitor to a point where all things are messed up, you should have a reset switch which will return everything to factory defaults.

Hope that helps.
The upper right area of forehead and right side of the face looks a little cool, but the left side does not. This suggests that the problem isn't so much the correct "white balance" but more likely that there are two different colored light sources at the same time. If you white balance for the cool side, the other side will look too warm. If you white balance for the warm side, the other side will look too cool.

The background looks fine -- so I'm guessing the subject is standing too near something which is putting a color cast into the light, but only on one side.
I think I have white balance issues, but I'm too new to know. I have it set in cloud mode on a Nikon D3200.

Yep he's blue and it's a white balance issue.

Here's how blue he is:


I adjusted the white balance until his skin color on his left cheek was the average for a Caucasian adult. I don't know if this guy is average but it's a fair bet he's pretty close. Human beings are basically orange leaning red or if you prefer we're red leaning yellow. On a color wheel from red you can move clockwise toward yellow or counterclockwise toward blue. Think of a classic round analog clock so that red is 12:00. Human beings are roughly 1:00 -- your guy here is 11:00.

You set the camera to a white balance preset: cloudy. But your condition is shade. Shade is much bluer than cloudy. Look at the bright spot on his upper right forehead. That spot is catching a reflection of the sky and it's blue -- it's so blue that it's still blue after my adjustment. There was a blue sky up there and your subject is in open shade.

Most people aren't sufficiently color sensitive to catch this degree of discrepancy and will be happy with the photo as you took it. You're seeing it which is good so now since you see it you need to fix it.

Your camera provides theses options:
1. Auto white balance.
2. White balance preset including degrees K.
3. Custom white balance.
4. (Raw file with reference target).

Options 3 and 4 work. Learn to set a custom white balance and start getting in the habit. It's easy and very effective. All you need is a piece of white Styrofoam. Here's a photo of me using the same a couple weeks ago.


That piece of Styrofoam I cut from the bottom of a food tray after I ate the Bok choy that was packed on the tray. You can't buy anything that works better. I carry that with my camera and what you see me doing there is option 4. The Styrofoam card will work for either option 3 or 4.

Option 2 is imprecise -- you just discovered that. If you had used the shade preset you might be happier but odds are the photo may have been over-corrected and too yellow. The presets have the advantage of being consistent but they're rarely accurate. Accurate isn't necessarily that important but it's a nice place to start from.

Option 1 is auto white balance. The only way your camera can measure the light color is with a reference target like the Styrofoam card. In auto white balance it uses computer algorithms to make an "educated guess" at measuring the light color. It'll guess wrong more often than it'll guess right. Auto white balance will frequently be as far off or worse than what you got from the mismatched preset above.

Learn to use your camera's custom white balance function, get in the habit of doing that and this problem is over.

Guys, thank you, this has been really helpful. I got a lot to work with here.

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