December 13, 2017, 06:25:50 AM

Author Topic: RAW white balance  (Read 3393 times)

stevelee

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RAW white balance
« on: November 04, 2017, 10:29:45 PM »
When shooting RAW, does the white balance setting make any difference, or does the setting just come along for the ride in the RAW file as a suggested value that software will use when opening the file? That sounds like a stupid question even to me, but I’d appreciate a serious answer.

During the "Golden Hour" today, during my last extra hour of sunlight for the year, I went out on the deck and on down to my back yard and made some pictures of the fall leaves in the nice light. I left on AWB. Of course the camera chose a low color temperature setting to try to make the light look white, and thus negated much of the time of day look.

In ACR I tried to set a white balance to approximate the look I saw when I shot the pictures. Before I tried using the sliders, I looked at the daylight and flash settings, and they came closest to restoring the natural look. Would there be any advantage to setting daylight WB in the camera in the first place? Or will I just wind up with the same look I would get with ACR with the sliders on the same settings whatever the WB was set on?

Do any of you use special techniques to try to maintain the look of the ambient lighting?

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RAW white balance
« on: November 04, 2017, 10:29:45 PM »

privatebydesign

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2017, 11:32:15 PM »
When shooting RAW, does the white balance setting make any difference, or does the setting just come along for the ride in the RAW file as a suggested value that software will use when opening the file? That sounds like a stupid question even to me, but I’d appreciate a serious answer.

During the "Golden Hour" today, during my last extra hour of sunlight for the year, I went out on the deck and on down to my back yard and made some pictures of the fall leaves in the nice light. I left on AWB. Of course the camera chose a low color temperature setting to try to make the light look white, and thus negated much of the time of day look.

In ACR I tried to set a white balance to approximate the look I saw when I shot the pictures. Before I tried using the sliders, I looked at the daylight and flash settings, and they came closest to restoring the natural look. Would there be any advantage to setting daylight WB in the camera in the first place? Or will I just wind up with the same look I would get with ACR with the sliders on the same settings whatever the WB was set on?

Do any of you use special techniques to try to maintain the look of the ambient lighting?

You got it!
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

Zeidora

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2017, 01:36:53 AM »
If you are interested in faithful reproduction of colors, then you still have to do WB even when shooting RAW. In that case you will not touch color temp adjustment during RAW processing. Say you shoot an all green lawn. How green was it? Which shade of green? If you do not do a WB before, you may adjust to some sort of green, but not necessarily the one that the lawn actually was. [I side-step here the effect that brightness has on color value, and all the caveats with camera and screen calibration and gamut of output medium. I also assume a black-body light source].
If you have some objective white/grey/blacks (or other known colors) on your image then you can adjust precisely after the fact. But much easier to do a WB before.
If you don't care about faithful colors, then go wild during editing, and forget about WB.
If you shoot IR or UV, you still want to do WB, because range of the adjustment options are limited in all RAW converters I've ever used.
This might be helpful:
http://www.clickinmoms.com/blog/color-by-kelvin-a-better-approach-to-white-balance/
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SecureGSM

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2017, 03:11:47 AM »
somewhat controversial article by clickinmoms...
one can perfectly get away shooting in AWB RAW provided colorchecker card was used.

setting white balance in camera does not guarantee an accurate, true colour reproduction.
yes, you set you neutrals ( whites, greys, blacks) right, but what about your reds , blues, purples?

one need more than a simple two way adjustment (kelvin plus green magenta shift). colorchecker card provides multipoint curve adjustment that ensures much more accurate colours.

that said, precise colour calibration will kill the golden hour lighting character completely. that is easily fixable though.


« Last Edit: November 05, 2017, 03:28:41 AM by SecureGSM »

Pippan

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2017, 04:01:46 AM »
Combine what Secure said with what you surmised. Taking a photo of a Colorchecker and making a light source profile in your raw converter of choice (it takes seconds) will give you the most accurate colour. If shooting in the sun, the light source profile will always be the same except towards the beginning and end of the day when atmospherics will alter it. To retain good golden hour hues, use the profile from a Colorchecker photo taken in the sun around midday.

neuroanatomist

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2017, 08:15:08 AM »
I view white balance like exposure – I tweak in post to taste.
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Viggo

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2017, 08:48:35 AM »
I find it much easier to use a WB tool before shooting, my tools are a CBL wb and a ColorChecker Passport. I can’t stand trying to tweak wb in post.  Being colorblind makes it very difficult and I spend too much time not getting it right.
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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2017, 08:48:35 AM »

Maximilian

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 10:57:39 AM »
I view white balance like exposure – I tweak in post to taste.
+1
A calibrated monitor is necessary for that of course.
If you intend to be really accurate use a grey card.
sometimes you have to close your eyes to see properly.

drjlo

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2017, 02:22:42 PM »
I find it much easier to use a WB tool before shooting, my tools are a CBL wb and a ColorChecker Passport. I can’t stand trying to tweak wb in post.  Being colorblind makes it very difficult and I spend too much time not getting it right.

For "casual" shooting, I tend to just tweak WB in post.  But for more serious/prolonged sessions, it saves me a lot of time in post just to use my Colorchecker before shooting.  Skin tones of various races are especially tricky otherwise IME.

stevelee

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2017, 07:59:48 PM »
Combine what Secure said with what you surmised. Taking a photo of a Colorchecker and making a light source profile in your raw converter of choice (it takes seconds) will give you the most accurate colour. If shooting in the sun, the light source profile will always be the same except towards the beginning and end of the day when atmospherics will alter it. To retain good golden hour hues, use the profile from a Colorchecker photo taken in the sun around midday.

Yes, that seems to be more to my point. Most of the advice I’ve been given here would seem to do more of what I’m working against. I don’t want a gray card to look gray. Your midday sun suggestion would seem to be what I was trying to approximate by choosing the corresponding ACR preset, which gives 5500 degrees and +10 magenta, as I recall. Then I tweaked.

stevelee

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2017, 08:04:34 PM »
When shooting RAW, does the white balance setting make any difference, or does the setting just come along for the ride in the RAW file as a suggested value that software will use when opening the file?

You got it!

Thanks for the confirmation. That made sense to me, but I was afraid I was missing something.

stevelee

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2017, 01:14:02 PM »
You got it!

Thanks for the confirmation. That made sense to me, but I was afraid I was missing something.

I had some other related stupid questions, and in my search on the web, I came across this page http://www.photographersadventureclub.com/raw-files-sensor-native-color-space-camera-processing/ that I found helpful.

Interestingly, he suggests a reason for always using daylight white balance when shooting RAW, to help with consistency in batch post-processing. If Lightroom or ACR is using different starting points for color balance on each picture, then the batch will give inconsistent results, even through the RAW files have not been altered in any way by the auto white balance setting. The downside, he says, is that the previews on the camera screen will look weird when the picture was made under very different light. One could of course use the tungsten setting for the whole bunch made in tungsten light and have the same advantage. It's not like you are going to use batch processing with the same settings for pictures made in very different lighting anyway.

privatebydesign

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2017, 01:29:01 PM »
You got it!

Thanks for the confirmation. That made sense to me, but I was afraid I was missing something.

I had some other related stupid questions, and in my search on the web, I came across this page http://www.photographersadventureclub.com/raw-files-sensor-native-color-space-camera-processing/ that I found helpful.

Interestingly, he suggests a reason for always using daylight white balance when shooting RAW, to help with consistency in batch post-processing. If Lightroom or ACR is using different starting points for color balance on each picture, then the batch will give inconsistent results, even through the RAW files have not been altered in any way by the auto white balance setting. The downside, he says, is that the previews on the camera screen will look weird when the picture was made under very different light. One could of course use the tungsten setting for the whole bunch made in tungsten light and have the same advantage. It's not like you are going to use batch processing with the same settings for pictures made in very different lighting anyway.

I always used to shoot in a fixed Kelvin value for the same reason, however now with the 1DX MkII's I really like the AWB-W setting so shoot that a lot of the time too, it depends how critical the cross session continuity is. For something like a wedding where I want accurate control over the color of the brides dress I'll still use a fixed Kº value, normally 5,500, for stuff where the color isn't critical I trust the AWB-W setting to get me more than close enough most of the time and certainly if you are outputting jpegs is a vast improvement on previous WB capability. If I shoot a concert it will be both RAW and jpeg on AWB-W so I can upload good quality Jpegs and still have malleable RAW files.
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2017, 01:29:01 PM »

Sporgon

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2017, 02:39:50 PM »
For the record I shoot at 5200K in raw all the time, but then I use much older gear than privatebydesign who has now joined the up-to-the-minute club  ;D

privatebydesign

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2017, 02:49:10 PM »
For the record I shoot at 5200K in raw all the time, but then I use much older gear than privatebydesign who has now joined the up-to-the-minute club  ;D

 ;D It took me long enough, but you know that!
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

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Re: RAW white balance
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2017, 02:49:10 PM »