Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nude Photography Hint: White Balance

One of the challenges of attempting to use these modern-day digital cameras with automatic exposure control is to capture the scene more in accordance with the way you see it. The problem is that the CCS detector in your camera is nowhere as sensitive nor adaptable as the retina of the human eye.  Additionally, the spectral range of a digital camera's detector is shifted slightly to the infrared end by design.   Though this aids low-light level exposures the shift can add a yellowish or bluish cast to your images that in most cases is either unflattering or 'not the way you remember it'.

Back in the days of real-film photography I used to carry white and grey reference cards that could be placed in the scene of an important image so that they could then be later adjusted during the print phase of development.  Few of us carry photographer's reference cards with us so we need to give some forethought when taking images in marginal light.

What is needed is some reference point and for me that has become the white socks I wear while hiking.  Since the white of the socks will take on the same amount of hue cast as the rest of the image, a decent image editing program (like G.I.M.P. or Photoscape, both free programs) will be able to detect the amount of cast in a white reference point and use that information to apply a correction to the rest of the image.  Placing a white index card near the edge of the scene would also accomplish the same thing, though, since I'm usually wearing the socks I have a convenient reference almost always available..

Take a look at the two images below . . . before and after images ...

Unedited image taken in deep shade takes on a bluish hue
Using the White Balance Adjustment of my photo editing program, I select a point that I know is pure white (or as close to pure white as possible) . . . in this case my white socks . . . and let the program figure out how much out of register the color in the image is away from white.  That information is then uniformly  used to remove or add hue to the rest of the image and bring colors back into balance.

Correction based on the white reference point of my socks
removes an equal amount of bluish hue from the entire image,
making it much more pleasing and representative.
Image was taken during a recent exploration along the Beckler River in the Cascades.

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