Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Through the Lens, Assignment 2 - White Balance

Assignment 2 for Hallie's Through the Lens digital photography course is white balance. I was really glad to see she'd chosen this, since white balance was one of those topics I'd read about but still couldn't quite wrap my brain around. A day of playing around with the white balance setting on my camera was just what I needed. All of the photos in the collage were shot with the same settings. (Shutter speed 1/500, F11, ISO 200, focal length 34mm - no, there is no special reason for these settings, this is what the camera chose in auto mode so I went with it. I'm still learning how to shoot in full manual mode. Ask me again at the end of the course.) The only difference between the shots is the white balance. Pretty wild when you look at them altogether like that, isn't it.

The tree is a clementine tree that's growing in a planter on my roof. Not hugely photogenic this time of year, but what it lacked in grace and composition it made up for in availability.

Hallie's assignment had actually called for keeping the white balance (and all the other settings) the same and then shooting the same image numerous times over the course of the day. I think Israeli summer sun must be a lot stronger and more consistent than Connecticut summer sun because when I tried that I didn't get a lot of variation in my shots so I went with the varying white balance you saw above.

The other thing that I learned is that the automatic white balance on the D40 is pretty good. It was rare that I found an adjustment I preferred over what the camera selected. (This of course may also reflect the fact that I'm still not very skilled in shooting in full manual mode, if I were fine tuning the rest of it more precisely I might find that I wanted to play more with white balance too.)

The second half of the assignment was to shoot with a white balance that you feel is correct for the lighting. This one, of a palm tree growing in front of my building, was taken in late afternoon full sunlight. The first picture was taken in auto mode. If I'd stopped here I'd have thought it was a fairly good shot.

This one was taken with the white balance set for "direct sunlight" (no additional +/- correction). You can see that the greens are much more vivid and the sky is a much richer blue. The first shot suddenly looks washed out by comparison.

So that's Assignment 2 for me. Thanks again Hallie, this was great. I'm already looking forward to the next one.


Leora said...

Thanks for this technical post. I starred it, and I'm going to go back and try it out at some point when I'm not rushing about driving this one here and meeting that one there.

Nancy said...

I like your "lessons" in easy to understand language!

I'm really getting addicted to mosaic photos ... I like how you did this one to show all the differences.

Robert said...

You done good here! I think your variation is much better than the original assignment. Keeping the same settings throughout the day AND changing the white balance will not give you an honest and accurate understanding of white balance. And that's what I understand the lesson to be. During the day the light changes and the shutter/aperture settings would be different. If you were to change the white balance but not properly expose the subject, you would think a particular white balance setting is better or worse than it really is. Am I making sense or just babbling? Anyhow, I like how you put the collage together. And your final two images and thoughts on them are great. I love that last one. Good stuff, Robin. :)

Robin said...

Leora and Nancy, I'm glad you found this easy to follow. I find overly technical jargon hard to follow as well, so I was trying hard to keep things simple.

Robert, I understood the original assignment as "leave all the settings INCLUDING the white balance the same" so that's what I originally tried. The only change was the angle of the sun. Didn't give me very much in terms of variety though, like I said, we get some pretty serious sun here. Whatever it was, doing it the way I did was what finally helped me to (start to) understand what it was all about. Thank you as always for being so encouraging. It's a real boost to my amateur's heart.

carrie said...

I really love the blue in that second shot of the palm tree! So pretty.

Leora said...

Robin, maybe you or one of your readers can help me out. See my Tel Dan photo. Do you think playing with the white balance might have helped my water? In general, my waterfall photos always look washed out. Suggestions for bright sun adjustments? (I've had this problem photographing white flowers, too). If anyone could comment on my blog on my Tel Dan photo, I would greatly appreciate it!

Irene said...

Great explanation! I am guilty of never changing my white balance. I will definitely check out this site and see if I can learn a thing or two!


Anonymous said...

WOW! Amazing the differences. I really should learn how to do things other than just point and shoot. The manual mode on my camera absolutely terrifies me!

Great job!

Tammy said...

This was very interesting. I received a D40 for my birthday last year, in August. I still don't know much about it. I have just kept it on auto pretty much. I really want to learn more.

Robin said...

These were all taken on my D40, I'm having a lot of fun as I learn to put it through its paces.

Anonymous said...

Those were very different pictures. They turned out nice. :)