Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

Thinking about White Balance Settings

Having a strategy regarding how you use your white balance settings in your camera can be a good way to insure that you get the photo you want later.  Many, but not all, cameras give you options, and being aware of when to take advantage of those options can save you some time in your post editing process.  I think it is worth the time to look through the manual of your camera and think about how you might use the different settings.  Today, I am going to talk about the two options I use most frequently, auto and custom.

Here is my defense of auto white balance, and when I say defense I say that because almost every photographer is made to feel like using an auto version of anything on their camera makes them less of a “real” photographer.  So, here it goes, my auto white balance setting works pretty well.  That’s the short version.  The longer version is that pretty much any photo I am taking for my artistic work I am going to at least consider changing the white balance in my post editing process.  Auto tends to give me a good solid starting point.  This photo was taken with the white balance set to auto:

ISO 400 160mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

ISO 400 160mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

Custom white balance is a setting I use all the time when I am taking photos inside ice arenas.  I spend a lot of time shooting hockey games.  When I started using custom white balance in those situations, I used a grey card.  I would prop it up on the side of the glass and take a photo of it.  My camera then allows me to choose that photo and use it to set the white balance setting of other photos from it.  That worked pretty well.  Then it was suggested to me that I try and shoot a photo of the ice and use that photo as a base for my white balance settings.  I like the way that works, here is an example:

ISO 2500 0ev f/1.8 1/2000

ISO 2500 0ev f/1.8 1/2000

This isn’t such a great photograph, but you can see detail in both the white and blacks of the uniform, and that is because the white balance here is set pretty well.  If you have ever shot in a hockey arena, you know the lighting is horrible and that getting a good exposure can be pretty tough.  Having your white balance set properly is a step in the right direction.

How about you? do you have a white balance setting you use frequently? maybe you don’t consider white balance at all?  Feel free to leave a comment below, and if you have written a blog post about it, feel free to leave a link.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

Freezing on Friday

Well, we got some snow and ice yesterday.  That meant that my bird feeders were busier than usual.

I used my Canon 50D with a 50mm lens to get these shots.  I did stay inside, we have some nice windows by the bird feeders so that we can enjoy the birds without bothering them too much.  I shot both using AWB, but then edited them later in Aperture.  Both pictures have been cropped.  The bird looking to the sky has been bumped up one exposure stop in post editing.  The bird under the bush I just used the auto adjust function for white balance.

Today is forecasted to be another cold one here, so I am expecting a lot of bird visitors.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Editing, Photography

Irony and the Mailbox

I was originally going call this post something like, “Brr….It’s Cold Outside”.  That is what I was thinking about yesterday morning when I was outside taking pictures of the frost on our mailbox.  So that is where I will start.  It’s been cold here, so I was hoping to create a picture that would express that.  Here is what I started with:

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/5.6 0.5s

ISO 125 50mm 0ev f/5.6 0.5s

This first version I shot using the tungsten white balance setting on my camera, I think the blue tint just adds to the cold feel of the picture.  The other white balance settings just didn’t thrill me as much.  I was also using my tripod, so that I could lower my ISO and get as still of an image as possible.  I did not use my remote shutter in this case, because that felt like a bit of overkill.  I edited this version a bit in Aperture.  I did some cropping and sharpening.

Here is my second version:

ISO 100 50mm (-1,0,1)ev f/1.8 1/40

ISO 100 50mm (-1,0,1)ev f/1.8 1/40

Here I was trying to express the “glow” of the cold.  In reading that statement it occurs to me that perhaps I had been out too long.  Anyway, I increased my shutter speed to hopefully avoid any movement as I was shooting a bracketed exposure.  I lowered my ISO to avoid, as much as possible, too many blown out highlights.  I also put the f-stop to 1.8 because I wanted to blur out the background more than I had in the first photo.  This photo has been processed in Photomatix.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to create a black and white image, but that was what looked best in my opinion once the editing had been done.

Now here is the irony.  Someone hit our mailbox just hours later.  And I’m not talking about a slight bump.  The post was snapped in two at the base.  We did emergency repairs (and when I say we, let me be honest and say, it wasn’t me) and now the mailbox is a little shorter, but hopefully it will hold until full repairs can be made.

As for the photos, what do you think of the two versions? have a favorite or another comment? feel free to leave them below.

Cheers!

 

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50mm Lens, Animals, Canon 50D, Nature, Photography

Just Hanging Out

Here is a subject that was hard to shoot:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/2.2 1/25

This is Batty and Scar.  They are Straw-Colored Fruit Bats that live at the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis Missouri.  I set my white balance to florescent, because that seemed to get the truest to real life color result.  The bats are in an enclosure, so I got as close as possible to get as much of that out of the picture as possible.

The lighting casts some pretty harsh shadows, so in Aperture I lightened the bat that is further back in the frame.  I also messed with the curves slider to get the color the way I wanted it.  The photo has also been cropped and sharpened.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

Having a foggy Monday?

Then here is a photo to go with your day:

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/10 1/250

I took this photo near some bird feeders where this Downy Woodpecker was eating.  It was pretty foggy; I had my white balance set to shady in the hopes of keeping the feel of the fog.  The photo has been cropped in Aperture.  Then I increased the exposure slider a bit.  I also lightened just the woodpecker and sharpened the photo.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

A bit of color

We are working with color in my digital photography class.  Here is one picture that I turned in for that assignment:

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/10 0.8s

I shot this in color.  I was out shooting that particular morning because it had been raining and I was looking to get some water drop photos.  It was a bit of a bust that way, so I thought I would try something different with the photos I did have and the result is what you see above.

I used a tripod, and not a super fast shutter speed.  There was not a whole lot of light out, but I set the white balance to shady, just to warm up the image a bit.

In Aperture I changed the image to black and white.  Then using one of the brushes, I brushed some of the color back in.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

A parrot I know

One of these days this parrot is going to squawk, “get the picture right already!”:

ISO 160 f/1.8 1/15 50mm

So, what I have right here is the lens.  I was using a 50mm, and given that the bird is close and has so many lovely colored feathers, I am using that lens to capture those details.

Here is what went wrong.  I was taking a picture of something else with a lot less light, just a minute before, and I forgot to change the f-stop before taking the picture.  The light in this place is crazy, but for this shot, there is no way a 1.8 is necessary or even a good thing.  So, I am letting in light I don’t need and losing depth of field which I do need.

Also, my white balance was set to florescent, but I think I will try tungsten next time, just to see if I prefer it.  It is a bit odd, because usually in this room, florescent works best.  For this parrot, I have tweaked the settings in the post editing process.

So, because I was surprised by this bird, I also didn’t think enough about framing the shot, hence the huge blown out white behind its head, which in some cases might work, but not in this one.

In writing this all out, I am hoping to take the photo differently when I get the chance.  Anything else I should consider? Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

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