Having a heatwave
White Balance in Photography
I have noted a common problem in photos taken by a number of photographers here on WunderGround that I used to run into until I learned an important part of digital photography. The digital sensors used in digital cameras are not capable of seeing color like we do. Instead they actually only see brightness of light or as we would call it, black and white. This web page on DIGITAL CAMERA SENSORS gives a more detailed explanation of digital camera sensors, but essentially the sensor array in your camera is made up of thousands of tiny light sensing diodes or light sensors. Since they only respond to light and dark or various levels of light, something has to be done so the your camera can distinguish the various colors of the image that falls on the sensor array. This is done by putting transparent light filters over each of the tiny sensors.
These filters only allow one color of light to pass. Those colors are the primary colors of Red, Blue, and Green. What did you just say, "You are probably asking me? I thought that the primary colors were Red, Blue and Yellow?"
Well that is true depending on whether you are reflecting the light back at your eyes or passing the light through film or transparent filters. If you are looking at colors on paper or canvas where the white light strikes the picture or painting and is reflect back to your eyes, then the primary colors are Red, Blue and Yellow, but when you pass that same white light through transparent filters and then allow that light to fall on a white surface, the primary colors for those filters is Red, Blue and Green.
In either case, all the colors you see with your eyes are made of of the 3 primary colors working together to give you the impression of thousands of colors. What the digital camera does is takes the signal representing light intensity or brightness from each tiny sensor in the sensor array and combines them to make up the digital photograph. Some of the sensors respond only to Red Light, some only to Blue Light and some only to Green Light. If an equal amount of light intensity signal comes from sensors of the 3 primary colors, the result is a bright white spot in the photo. No light intensity signal would give you a black spot on the photo.
Now on to the reason for White Balance. For a more in-depth look at White Balance check out this webpage. Because the only way you can produce a white spot on your photo where it should be white, you have to make sure that the signal from all of the color sensors in the array are balanced and putting out the same amount of signal for the same amount of light striking the sensor. It's the job of the computer software in your digital camera to make sure that this is done correctly. Unfortunately most of the under $500 digital cameras do not do this accurately. Because of the inability of digital sensors to adjust to light the way film can do, the makers of the digital cameras have included a range of White Balance corrections or calibrations for different lighting conditions. Some of the better cameras do a pretty good job or providing the right calibration and color shift or adjustment for the various lighting conditions you will run into, but many do not. And to make things worse, all digital cameras have what is called Auto White Balance where the camera tries to decide on the proper color adjustment for the scene you are shooting. I don't know about the over $1000 cameras on how well they perform, though a review source I use called Steve's Digicams seems to give most of the expensive DLSR cameras, high marks on White Balance. Why is White Balance so important? Well it's important if you want your photos to show the true colors as they appear to your eye when you take the picture. How do you know if you are getting the right White Balance adjustments? Simply point you camera as a bright white object like a white piece of paper or cloth that fills at least 90 percent of you view finder or screen in the light you intend to take your picture in. Take a picture and look at the results on you view screen. It the white object appears to be completely white with no color shifts towards the red, blue or green. If it does not appear to be completely white, then the rest of the colors in you pictures will also be wrong. Most of the digital cameras I've seen have a Custom or Manual White Balance setting or adjustment. You will have to read you camera manual to learn how to use it for your particular camera. What Custom or Manual White Balance lets you do is to program in the correct White Balance adjustments yourself for that particular photo session. Essentially what you do is set you camera up for Manual White Balance and aim you camera at something that is completely white and press what ever buttons are needed to tell your camera that this is the color white in this lighting. Once this is set, you can be sure that your pictures will come out looking the right colors that they should be. If you have been frustrated by you pictures not coming out the right colors, check this out. You will be very pleased with your results.
The following are some pictures of the same subject matter taken with my Fuji Finepix S1000fd compact digital camera under warm fluorescent lighting in doors. You will notice that only the Custom setting produced the right colors in the photos I took. None of the preprogrammed or the auto white balance setting got it right. On my camera with the current software, Fine White Balance is the same as Bright Sunshine White Balance.
Auto White Balance (AWB)
Custom White Balance
Fine or Daylight White Balance
Shade or Cloudy White Balance
FLUORESCENT LIGHT-1 White Balance
FLUORESCENT LIGHT-2 White Balance
FLUORESCENT LIGHT-3 White Balance
Incandescent Light White Balance
* CURRENT WEATHER INFORMATION FOR SHAKOPEE *
in the South Metro Twin Cities, MN
Updated: 5:19 AM GMT on February 27, 2012
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I have noticed a trend in the use of HDR techniques by some photographers that I find a little disturbing. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and as I understand it, was a technique developed to compensate for a common weakness in digital camera as compared to the film cameras that most of us used to us. Because of research down by Kodak back in the Cold War Days, film had been developed that had a very wide range of light and color capability that allowed the rest of us to get very bright and detailed photographs. The sensors created for digital cameras do not have this range and so the developers of digital cameras have tried a number of techniques to create digital cameras with this same capability that film had. So far they have come close but have yet to achieve this. The high resolution of the so called full frame cameras, which used the largest sensors available, same as a 35mm negative, have come the closest that I've seen, but the best technique for getting the same results appears to be the use of the HDR technique. The problem I'm seeing is that some photographers are taking this technique to extremes the create photos with unrealistic light and dark areas in the pictures, overly bright colors, and even halos around the objects in the photo that were not there in real life. I've taken a series of photos today to show what I feel is the proper use of HDR to bring out the clarity and detail in the picture as our eyes would see it. The following photographs are the result of the work.
The first photo is the center photo of 15 photos taken of the same scene at various light sensitivity settings of my camera from darkest to lightest. The second photo is and HDR composite of those photos with the light and dark areas and colors adjusted to represent what I actually was looking at.
I realize that the scene may not be the best in terms of art work, but that is not what my intention was. After last nights snowfall, I realized that I would have a great opportunity with a scene that had lots of different areas that are too bright or too dark for my camera to represent correctly so a lot of the original scene information got lost in the photographing. This would have been even more intense if I had been lucky enough to get the sun out shining brightly also which would have really over whelmed my camera with very bright snow along with the dart areas in and under the vehicles in the parking lot with the wet black asphalt. As you should be able to see, every detail in the HDR photo is clearly visible with out any halos or exaggerated light or dark areas or colors. To me, this is what HDR is all about, unless you are trying to create digital art with your camera which is not allowed in the Wunderground Photo Galleries.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
This is the center photo of 15 photos I took out my window showing last nights snow.
This is an HDR photo of 15 photos I took out my window showing last nights snow.
* CURRENT WEATHER INFORMATION FOR SHAKOPEE *
in the South Metro Twin Cities, MN
Updated: 10:44 PM GMT on February 21, 2012
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Looks more like Winter
* CURRENT WEATHER INFORMATION *
THE RADAR SAYS IT'S RAINING
But what I see out the window looks like white snow.
Lots of white snow.
It feels more like Winter with the cold wave that has been dropping down out of Canada, but it's still pretty dry and snowless around the Twin Cities area in MN. Check out these photos from my area.
February 11, 2012 - Bright, beautiful, & cold
Another almost clear blue sky on this very cold day in the Southern TC, MN.
Conditions at Minneapolis Flying Cloud, MN this day
Mean Temperature_____10 °F
Max Temperature______19 °F
Min Temperature_______0 °F
Heating Degree Days__56
Dew Point____________-7 °F
Sea Level Pressure
Sea Level Pressure____30.60 in
Wind Speed___________12 mph (WNW)
Max Wind Speed________18 mph
Max Gust Speed________26 mph
February 7, 2012 - A Perfect Day
It's hard to tell from this picture that it's Winter. Temp. at 1:20pm was 26 deg. F with a wind of 10mph. Looks like Summer doesn't it?
January 20, 2012 - Snowstorm3
Weatherman said 40 to 80 percent chance of snow. Look what we got this Fri Jan 20, 2012. The snow drought is over.
Updated: 10:06 PM GMT on March 19, 2012
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