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Best White Balance setting for Landscapes

jrp

San Pedro Garza Garc´┐Ża, MX
37716 posts

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jrp Administrator JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources Charter Member
Mon 21-Jan-13 07:14 AM | edited Sun 17-May-15 11:52 PM by jrp

This is well known by experimented landscape photographers.
However, since my landscape practice is only once a year, I felt the need to reassure myself that White Balance Daylight is better than Auto for landscape photography, more so when near or at the golden hours.

This first series of six images was made with WB Daylight while waiting for sunrise at the Mesquite Dunes in the Death Valley National Park, CA

Click on image to view larger version


Click on image to view larger version


And this other series below was made in between the above shots with White Balance Auto

Click on image to view larger version


Click on image to view larger version


Although they are not exactly equivalent to each other, it is very clear that the subtle blue tones of the light, especially between dawn to sunrise (and twilight to sunset), are recorded by the sensor in RAW but wiped out in the rendering when using WB AUTO. Unrecoverable if shooting JPEG only.

This was tested on both a D700 and with a D800 with the same results, although at different locations.

The results may look a bit more dramatic than usual because of the use of a "Velvia" Picture control, enhancing contrast and saturation (in both series).

Below an abbreviated "summary" set of images made after sunrise, confirming the conclusion: WB Daylight is best for landscape photography.

Click on image to view larger version


Auto Tones and Auto Levels were also proven to be a lazy way to process images in Capture NX2/Photoshop, eliminating tone and color subtleties.

The above images were made on a Nikon D700 on a MAGICA 3.3 camera support in A mode with 14-24mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S Nikkor @ 24mm, f/7.1, ISO 1250, varying only the shutter speed depending on light as Matrix-metered.

The lens was focused at aprox. 4 meters (~13 feet), later found (back home) as being the hyperfocal distance recommended for 8x10 prints @ 24mm, f/5.6

All images were uploaded as shot into Capture NX2. Without any changes were converted into jpg files for resizing only in Photoshop.
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Have a great time :-)
JRP (Founder & Administrator. Mainly at the north-eastern Mexican desert) Gallery, Brief Love Story
Please join the Silver, Gold and Platinum members who help this happen; upgrade.
Check our workshops at the Nikonians Academy and the Nikonians Photo Pro Shop

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