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General => General discussion => Photography => Topic started by: Horney on 22 April 2009, 18:03

Title: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 22 April 2009, 18:03
Ok so this all about getting those shots at No-Rice or SoVAG or any other meet which takes place in a dark carpark that always come out orange. Most cameras these days are set to automatically adjust themselves for which ever light you are in. The problem is the old sodium lights used in a lot of these car parks really do outwit the camera and it tries it's best but fails. You therefore need to tell your camera exactly what should be white and this is where some custom settings come in!

A couple of examples:

Camera set to Auto
(http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y115/Horney_mini/No%20Rice%20Dec%2007/706bea92.jpg)

Custom White balance set
(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3012/3100437483_cc11bcbeb6.jpg)


What you need:

* A camera which allows you to adjust the White Balance.
* A tripod.
* A remote shutter release would be handy.

The theory:

The idea with this is to tell your camera what should be white by using the custom White Balance feature of your camera. How this works differs from camera to camera so you will have to refer to your specific manual to find out how to do it.

Once you know how it's pretty easy. Simply find something white that is under the orange lighting you will be shooting the cars under and fill at least 75% of the shot with it and use that shot to tell your camera that that area should be white. Then set the camera to use custom White Balance and bobs your uncle no more orange. Your shots will appear a bit "colder" I.E blue but that's a good trade off for not having any orangeness and you can then tweek them a bit on Photoshop if you have it.

When taking the actual shot your probably going to have to use a slightly longer shutter speed than you can manage handheld regardless of the white balance so take a tripod and use it so your shots are crystal sharp. A shutter remote is always handy to to elimante any possible camera shake.

Tips:

* Carry a sheet of white card (or 10% grey) in your camera bag to set the balance with.
* No card? Find a car with a white bonnet!
* Don't forget to change the white balance back to auto once you've finished or you'll find the next set of shots you take in daylight will look frickin weird (trust me, I know this one well!).

Nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 23 April 2009, 16:24
I'm going to be trying this tonight, and light trails :)
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 23 April 2009, 16:27
Cool, post up the results in the relevant threads :grin:

nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 23 April 2009, 16:29
Cool, post up the results in the relevant threads :grin:

nick

Will do :) I want to take my car to a dual carriageway bridge and get all the cars below lights on there :)
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: bobbarley on 23 April 2009, 16:30
Cool, post up the results in the relevant threads :grin:

nick

Will do :) I want to take my car to a dual carriageway bridge and get all the cars below lights on there :)
Quality, it's like light trails 101 :)
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 24 April 2009, 00:29
Bit annoyed, my cam wouldn't read a reading at all? Took a white piece of paper with me, put it directly under the orange light and a bit further away from it and it wouldn't register.... :cry:
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 24 April 2009, 09:46
What do you mean wouldn't register? Couldn't focus?

Nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 24 April 2009, 10:23
What do you mean wouldn't register? Couldn't focus?

Nick

Well it says it can't read the info, I did manage to get it to do it twice but I'm not sure what I did for it to do that. It's hard to explain :(
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 24 April 2009, 10:25
I'll have a fiddle with it tomorrow, make sure you bring your manual :-)

nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Guy on 24 April 2009, 10:34
I'll have a fiddle with it tomorrow, make sure you bring your manual :-)

nick

see shady... what did i tell you!  :grin:
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Ben Lessani on 24 April 2009, 10:36
Can't you just shoot in RAW, then set the W/B after?
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 24 April 2009, 10:38
Yes you can but when working under sodium street lighting it's much much better to get it right in camera as you get consistancy with your shots all looking the same colour balance wise. Photoshop is OK for correcting WB but the camera is better at it.

nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 24 April 2009, 11:13
I'll have a fiddle with it tomorrow, make sure you bring your manual :-)

nick

see shady... what did i tell you!  :grin:

You must of read his mind lol!


Cheers Nick, will do, I didn't bother with the light trails last night as I couldn't get a decent white balance on the go :(
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 24 April 2009, 11:49
That's a shame mate but we'll get ya sorted. You should have had a go anyway!

Nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 24 April 2009, 11:53
That's a shame mate but we'll get ya sorted. You should have had a go anyway!

Nick

Well I did, I put the camera on the tripod and set it to shutter priority, and had a 20 sec delay on it, and then drove in front of it lol! I'll post the results in a bit.
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: barry-gti on 18 May 2009, 21:01
do you just take the white paper so you can adjust the WB on the camera until the piece of paper goes white? and do you put the paper under the light or something? if so is it the whole sheet or sould there be some background?
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 18 May 2009, 22:07
do you just take the white paper so you can adjust the WB on the camera until the piece of paper goes white? and do you put the paper under the light or something? if so is it the whole sheet or sould there be some background?

+1 I need to know this as well.
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 18 May 2009, 22:18
The piece of paper needs to fill the 90% of the viewfinder and it needs to be under the light conditions under which you're shooting. As to how to change it in your cameras you'll have to refer to your manual as they each do it differently.

Nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: barry-gti on 19 May 2009, 08:50
ok so i dont know if you remember. i posted up some pictures in the light trials section of cars on the motorway. the pictures came out really orange and i think that is what was dimming the red lights of the cars.

if i wanted to set the white balance on that how would i go about that? because i wouldnt be able to get under the light to set the WB. so would i just show about 10% of where im shooting (if you know what i mean)
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 19 May 2009, 09:18
In that case you're a bit screwed but you can try the different default values for WB and see if any improve it a bit.

Nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: barry-gti on 19 May 2009, 09:27
alright thanks mate!
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Diamond Hell on 20 May 2009, 08:47
Ummmm, why not just put the paper down in the open where you're shooting from and give it a nice long exposure.  Provided you're not a million miles away from the sodium light source you'll get the white balance a lot closer than otherwise.
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Ben Lessani on 20 May 2009, 09:32
Ummmm, why not just put the paper down in the open where you're shooting from and give it a nice long exposure.  Provided you're not a million miles away from the sodium light source you'll get the white balance a lot closer than otherwise.

The trouble with a longer exposure than you are going to shoot with, is that it will mess up the WB figure - it just lets in FAR too much light.

Get a set of warm cards and do it properly! I remember a few years back when we were shooting Glasgow Fashion Week, lost our wb cards and had to use a fella in a nice white t-shirt stood on the catwalk throughout the week!
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Diamond Hell on 20 May 2009, 09:42
Sorry, I didn't mean to go crazy with the exposure.  Open the exposure up enough so that you can accurately capture the hue of the white you're likely to be shooting, if the sample you're shooting is in the same sort of lighting, but is further away from the light source than most of the scene you're shooting.... if that makes sense....
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: barry-gti on 20 May 2009, 10:25
OK. well thats complicated, next time i go i'll bare all of these in mind and try a few different things...practice makes perfect i suppose!

thanks
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: pink witch on 08 August 2009, 00:09
Call me old fashioned, but it's so much easier with a manual SLR - just bung a filter on and adjust the exposure to compensate for the filter density  :smiley:
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: Shady Pioneer on 08 August 2009, 00:15
^^^

Old fashioned :P
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!
Post by: pink witch on 08 August 2009, 12:05
^^^

Old fashioned :P

LOL Shady  :kiss:
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: thatwillis on 18 February 2011, 00:02
Hey I've been trying to setup my d3000 but it just tells me it can't get the settings any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

Cheers
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Horney on 18 February 2011, 07:57
I'm not sure fella as I'm a Canon user, hopefully another Nikon bod will be able to help you out.

nick
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Ridg on 18 February 2011, 09:03
Hey I've been trying to setup my d3000 but it just tells me it can't get the settings any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

Cheers

what to you mean by setup?

on the camera it's menu > shooting menu > white balance

page 80

http://www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals/noprint/D3000_ENnoprint.pdf

if you're using camera raw (on RAW or JPEG) then you might be sellecting an area that's too bright, for cars I normally use the registration plate (front) or white road markings (i in camera raw selections the white balance tool).
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: thatwillis on 18 February 2011, 12:03
As in set the white balance to the lighting situation. I read through the how to in the manual. I stood under a orange street light. Set manual to appropriate settings (using the gauge on the display) went though the procedure to set up. Put a piece of white paper in front of the camera when it was under the orange street light. Took pictures. Error comes up telling me it could not acquire settings.  :sad:

Should i be setting it to a short shutter speed or long ?

Chances are I'm getting something wrong somewhere still pretty new to this.

Thanks for your help  :smiley:
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Ridg on 18 February 2011, 12:20
As in set the white balance to the lighting situation. I read through the how to in the manual. I stood under a orange street light. Set manual to appropriate settings (using the gauge on the display) went though the procedure to set up. Put a piece of white paper in front of the camera when it was under the orange street light. Took pictures. Error comes up telling me it could not acquire settings.  :sad:

Should i be setting it to a short shutter speed or long ?

Chances are I'm getting something wrong somewhere still pretty new to this.

Thanks for your help  :smiley:

your shutter speed needs to be one that exposes the white paper correctly e.g. the exposure meter should be at 0 / in P, A or S mode you have no exposure compensation dialled in

Personally I'd use one of the presets and then adjust the image in camera raw.
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: shepgti on 18 February 2011, 12:48
As in set the white balance to the lighting situation. I read through the how to in the manual. I stood under a orange street light. Set manual to appropriate settings (using the gauge on the display) went though the procedure to set up. Put a piece of white paper in front of the camera when it was under the orange street light. Took pictures. Error comes up telling me it could not acquire settings.  :sad:

Should i be setting it to a short shutter speed or long ?

Chances are I'm getting something wrong somewhere still pretty new to this.

Thanks for your help  :smiley:

your shutter speed needs to be one that exposes the white paper correctly e.g. the exposure meter should be at 0 / in P, A or S mode you have no exposure compensation dialled in

Personally I'd use one of the presets and then adjust the image in camera raw.

agreed, so easy to post process the white balance. failing that i would just use a cooler colour temp in the white balance settings
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: thatwillis on 18 February 2011, 15:33
Yeah I'll edit them in camera in RAW. My laptop isnt that great and gets very upset when i try and edit RAW pictures on it being 2/3 times the size of Jpegs.

your shutter speed needs to be one that exposes the white paper correctly e.g. the exposure meter should be at 0 / in P, A or S mode you have no exposure compensation dialled in

I made sure the meter was set to 0. Would it be better to use P,A, or S to setup then?

Cheers
James
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: T_J_G on 23 February 2011, 15:15
x
Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: bored_Welsh_lad on 24 April 2011, 12:03
It's been a long time since I have played with a camera but from what I remember doesn't a camera try to produce a correctly exposed image to 18% grey.. so I had a little google and came up with this...

Quote
First, white balance will remove any color cast. It does not correct for underexposure. You can use a white or gray target to set the custom WB, as long as it is a neutral color (ie, equal parts of R,G,B so no cast whatsoever.) If shooting flash, yes, use flash to set custom WB. Instruction book says to have card completely cover center ring in viewfinder. I try to get even more coverage. It needs to be properly exposed. If gray card, histogram should be vertical group in center. If white card, vertical grouping toward the right. In no event should the histogram grouping be vertical in the left half.

I don't know how many people on here use histograms to check their exposure but HERE (http://www.digital-slr-guide.com/how-to-read-a-histogram.html) is a good place to learn about them...

I think it's very good to learn about custom white balances as you can see from THIS (http://forums.photographyreview.com/showthread.php?t=57011) link it makes hell of a difference....


Title: Re: How To: Custom White Balance (Or shoot cars in carparks under orange lights!)
Post by: Diamond Hell on 26 April 2011, 13:49
Error comes up telling me it could not acquire settings.  :sad:

Should i be setting it to a short shutter speed or long ?

What 'mode' are you using for this?

Although I'm a Canon user, so I can only speak from Canon-based experience IIRC you can only set the custom white balance when you're in one of the 'creative zone' modes, not the auto/sports/numpty preset modes.

Nikon might not be like that, but it's worth checking.