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Is there such a thing as correct white balance? Discuss...

MelT

Petersburg, US
4608 posts

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"RE: Is there such a thing as correct white balance? Discuss. "

MelT Registered since 06th Jul 2002
Wed 14-Dec-11 05:07 PM

>As Mel says, you can achieve it in a studio. I think I can get
>close enough in uniform lighting. Obviously it falls apart in
>split lighting, but the principal can still apply to how you
>want it to turn out.

Whoa....me thinks what Mel said needs a little clarification. I did say that a color reference was needed to achieve “accurate” color in a studio environment. You shoot a color card for reference under the lighting conditions you are using and then shoot whatever you are shooting. You color correct the reference shot to the physical card and apply these same color corrections to what you shot. Now many do not go to this extent, including me, because “acceptable” color is well….ummm….acceptable but I have done this. I feel there is a difference between “acceptable” color (which most people shoot) and “accurate” color”. This is why I have asked many times how you gage the color “accuracy” in your images that you say you have and this has gone unanswered. There are so many factors involved from shooting to final print that I feel it is impossible to achieve without very deliberate steps taken that very few do.

You are constantly dismissive of discussion of color correctness by saying that it is not what the original post/question was about. I for one feel that WB and color correctness go hand and hand and discussions about correct color is very appropriate. WB does affect color.

I just want to give you a little background about me in an attempt to enlighten you where I am coming from with my previous comments. From the age of 14 through high school I worked in a studio that did their own custom printing (i.e. no machine prints) whether it was color or B&W. Working in a custom color darkroom made me aware of “color”. For the most part, “acceptable” color was how we color corrected things but there were times, with product shooting, we needed to do “accurate” color matching and did what I described above. On a routine basis, we would do a color test if there was a difference in the lot# of the Kodak paper we used because there can be variances between lots. We did the same with the chemicals we used. We would run test strips of each image on a roll and color correct each strip and print accordingly. My formative years were in this type of environment.

Fast forward today, people who know me whether it is family, friends or other photographers know that I am OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) like when it comes to “color” and this is not color matching or getting “accurate” color but simply trying to get, what I consider “acceptable” color. I get grief because what I see is wrong regarding a print in terms of color is not noticed by others.

Last month, I had to get a 24x36 image printed by an outside lab since I was having printer problems. People went nuts over it (including serious photographers) but I did not like the print because there was a tad too much yellow and printed a 1/2 stop darker then it should be. I could instantly see this when I went to pick it up. I did not need to compare it with anything. Now this color shift was not because I processed it wrong. The proof from my printer printed through PS looked just great using ICC paper profiles. This variance was caused by the RIP the outside printer used and perhaps their paper they used. I guess this gibberish is meant to convey to you that I am VERY color sensitive. When it comes to “acceptable” color, this is very subjective.

I would never say I have “accurate” color in images I do unless I went through the steps above and had a reference to color correct by. Without a reference, I do not understand how you can claim “accurate” color. This is why I asked over and over again how do you gage your accuracy. There are variances in meters that judge WB just like there are variances in light meters. Additionally, all the camera settings that are in digital cameras today with regards to tone, contrast, etc. will cause color variances. Even with only a subtle change of contrast, this changes the saturation of color. All of this coupled with experience, is why I say there is neither an “accurate” WB nor an “accurate” exposure when it comes to real world photography. Just because a meter may say it is accurate does not make it so. Heck, I have two Nikon cameras from the same generation of technology but different models that will meter a scene differently by 1/3 stop.

Oh yeah….with regards to your comments about color prints of old vs. digital color prints and how much better digital color prints are……I do have some cibachrome prints made from Kodachrome 25 transparency film printed 30 years ago that look stunning, color wise, even today. You do get what you pay for with regards to color prints whether it was 30 years ago or today.


Mel

An Opinionated Old Curmudgeon from Virginia



Website - www.meltalley.com
Blog - http://blog.meltalley.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/mel.talley
Twitter - @meltalley

This is a hot, active topic! Is there such a thing as correct white balance? Discuss... [View all] , mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 , Sat 10-Dec-11 02:41 PM
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