SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} [deleted] 4:43pm, 19 December 2012
I have a shoot of a big family (twenty people) this weekend at a local farm. I am expecting a seriously grey, overcast day, and the family plans to wear white and jeans. Would you use a full, 1/2 or 1/4, or would it just depend on the day? I'm in Virginia, and it's usually very flat light around this time of year and that time of day, so I'd like to cool the background a little, but I've got a big, red barn to deal with, too, and I don't want it to look purple, nor do I want to turn everyone's shirts to a dingy cream. Thoughts?

Thanks so much!
Sara
MOD
It's just Mark PRO 5 years ago
What else is in the background,other than the big red barn?
dkmurphypr PRO 5 years ago
I shot my family gathering this past summer (20+ people) on an overcast day. I just shot using natural light and cloudy WB, and the photo turned out great.

As Mr. Hobby says, don't let good light ruin a photo.
SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} [deleted] Posted 5 years ago. Edited by SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} (member) 5 years ago
`Mark&Manna Photography:
Farm-ish stuff. Fields, horses, fences. But the place where I'm planning to shoot the big family shot is a small field with a gigantic (really big!) red barn in the background. A link to a shoot at the location (sorry it's non Flickr):
www.sarakellyphoto.com/blog/?load/blog_detail/page/59221/...

dkmurphypr:
Thanks! I'm worried there won't be enough directional light. Did you use a reflector? With a group of this size, I was thinking my best bet was to bring out the strobes. No? I'd prefer not to. It's a windy location, and I don't have an assistant.
Rangefindergeneral 5 years ago
You can warm it up in post, overcast is very blue.
Easy Mark 5 years ago
I know you don't have an assistant, but if it were me, I would break out the strobes and be prepared to underexpose the natural light by a stop or two, but that is just me.

I think that using the Shade white balance option will be even warmer than the cloudy white balance setting.
Murray McMaster 5 years ago
If I wanted to augment cloudy light I would use 1 or 2 speed lights gelled CTB from one side. Or cross light from each side. Remember, zoom the flash wide & aim at the far side of the group.
About 1/2 stop over ambient, custom WB.
YMMV.
Commercial Photographer Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 5 years ago
SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos}:
I'd like to cool the background a little, but I've got a big, red barn to deal with, too, and I don't want it to look purple, nor do I want to turn everyone's shirts to a dingy cream. Thoughts?

Sara,

It could be pretty tricky.

First you need to find your correct colour balance. Even on a 'blue' day or 'overcast' you can get a correct colour balance by either using your pre-set camera colour balance for 'overcast' or setting an appropriate colour temperature.. I prefer colour temperature. You might find a camera setting something around 6100°K in the ballpark.

To find the exact colour temperature you can do a 'custom colour' balance. Find out how to do this in your camera manual. Taking a photo with this and reading the file info will normally tell you what the '°K' value is. (Lets say its 6100°K). This setting will give you a correct ambient background rendition.

Now you want to break it, because you actually want a bluer background.

You want your background 'cool' - or bluer, in order to do this you need to reduce the colour temperature setting of your camera. How much you reduce the colour temperature setting of your camera will change how much more 'bluer' you get. Lets say you adjust your camera, take a shot and you're happy with the ambient background colour when its set to 5500K.

You now have a 'blue' background, (and by way of convenience the colour balance you have arrived at is a happy typical flash colour temperature) :) - so you can just use your flash in this situation with no filtering of the flash.. but it could be different.

You obviously want your camera colour balance setting matching your flash colour balance making your subject correct, so this means sometimes filtering or colouring your flash from its regular 5500°k colour temperature (do check) to whatever the colour balance that your camera is set to, so that there is a match.

If for instance you end up with your camera colour setting at 4600° with a happy blue look, the difference between 4600° on your camera and 5500° on your flash is 900°, so it needs changing to match. 4600° is 'warmer' than 5500°, so you need to add a warming filter with a value of 900°.

If you now add a filter which provides a 900° shift warmer to your flash you will be back at a perfect colour balance for your flash illuminated subjects with your camera set to its 4600°K. The filter with a 900°k shift in this case would be an 1/8 CTO.

You can find a calculator here: www.leefilters.com/lighting/mired-shift-calculator.html
and filter values here: www.leefilters.com/lighting/technical-list.html

Alternatively you could just guess !!

If you do guess you do run the risk of making the barn look purple because you set your camera balance too blue, and also turning everyone's shirts to a dingy cream because you set the flash filtering too orange. Tweeking one way or the other will make one better or the other worse. It will then need fixing - which is what you're trying to avoid.

This task relies on you actually lighting your subjects and not just 'filling'. Darkening the background a little will assist in keeping your subjects lit the correct colour.. keeping it 'light' will make your task more difficult, if not impossible.

!! I think its easier to actually do than explain !!
SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} [deleted] Posted 5 years ago. Edited by SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} (member) 5 years ago

Wow. Thank you so much, CP. I had the basic outline of it, but the way you explained it makes it so much simpler. Thank you, thank you, thank you! So one quick question, if you don't mind: when you are talking about doing a custom color balance, do you just mean a custom white balance as set with a grey card or ExpoDisc or something?

Interesting final warning about not just using the flash for fill. I was planning on cross lighting... I guess I'll need to be very careful.

Thank you so much for taking the time to lay this out for me. I am endlessly grateful!

Sara
SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} [deleted] Posted 5 years ago. Edited by SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} (member) 5 years ago
Thanks! I am hoping to avoid too much post on these, as I'm going to need to turn them around very quickly. I'm slow with PS. But thank you for the suggestion.

Certainly true about not allowing for organic shots, and a good reminder. My problem is that I'm pretty good with simple set-ups, but the big group worries me a touch. I'm used to smaller groups, and I'm afraid of losing my back row or something!

I may bring along my seven year old. She's a good assitant. ;)

Thanks! Custom WB set to the true ambient, is that what you're thinking? (What does YMMV mean?)
MOD
Nionyn_ PRO 5 years ago
Commercial Photographer: Excellent post, comprehensively and well explained. Nice one. :-)
MOD
Nionyn_ PRO 5 years ago
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary. i.e. you may find that things don't work out quite like this for you. :-)

when you are talking about doing a custom color balance, do you just mean a custom white balance as set with a grey card or ExpoDisc or something?


Yes, or even with a colour meter.

This is (sort of) unnecessary in your case as yo WANT to change it once you obtain it. Obtaining it in the first place gives a point to start from.

In other circumstances obtaining the custom white balance would be the objective and the point to filter your flash for.
Mr. Speedlight 5 years ago
What do you do if your camera doesn't give you the color temperature when using a Preset WB? The information I get from Nikon CaptureNX2 is "White Balance: Preset manual d-0, 0, 0". My camera is a Nikon D300s.

I've tried to find this information before but my camera keeps the preset WB data to itself. The only time I see a color temp displayed is when I set one myself. For example I just set 4000K and then added two ticks amber and 1 tick magenta with the color map so the readout on the back of the D300s' LCD is "WB 4000K A2, M1".

Dave Hartman
Jerry P. H. Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (member) 5 years ago
Get the WB close in camera, shoot RAW, do a minor adjust in post, problem over. Leave the CTO's at home.

You have 20 people to capture, a couple of speedlights are NOT strong enough to overexpose a group this size by 1-2 stops.

A wiser move is to use the speedlights to just fill in areas like the eye sockets and increase the contrast some. Get the light from the speedlights to come within a 1/2 stop of ambient and that is all you really need.

KISS FTW. ;-)
Alfredk PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Alfredk (member) 5 years ago
I fully agree with to shoot a group of 20 and trying to color balance with two flashes is asking a bit too much!
You are going to have a challenge to light the group as is, adding gels and shooting for underexposed background will leave you struggling.

In theory, this is as simple as can be, practically not so easy!
thorsten198 5 years ago
Mr. Speedlight

The default color temp for the options (cloudy, shade, direct sun, etc) are listed in the user manual, unfortunately the camera doesn’t show it.

Your preset WB data shows 0, since you haven’t recorded/ saved any, you can save 5 presets d-0/d-4 and you can also select WB data from any image on the memory card directly.
I haven’t known this either and was just digging in the user manual.
Photo Engineer Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Photo Engineer (member) 5 years ago
One thing that I have done with my D7000 in the past is set up a neutral target, take a shot, and check the RGB histograms. Then, based on the peaks, I adjusted the WB using color temperature and shot again until the RGB peaks overlapped. That gave me the color temp of the light. Took a while... maybe there's a more straightforward way?

Last time I did this (indoors where ambient was lots of CFLs) the WB required a tint shift in addition to the temperature, and that's where things got dodgy for me trying to then match my flash color using only the CTOs in my bag!
thorsten198 5 years ago
Jerry P.H.

Not sure if I get it right?
From your comment above, does it mean that when I only use fill flash it will not cause any WB conflict at all, or is it only negligible in this current daylight situation?
SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} [deleted] 5 years ago
and This is my question, too.
Thats why I prefer to set white balance myself. To obtain the colour temperature settings using this method works and they're adjustable. Simple solution.. don't use presets.

This will give you an idea of where the WB settings of the camera are roughly placed:
www.3drender.com/glossary/colortemp.htm
and and . That wouldn't be my question as there sure would be a WB conflict.

My question would be "When you get the WB close in camera and the camera is at 7600° and then you add flash at 5500° - do you then chose to get the people right, or the background right?" Only one can be right, and that doesn't satisfy the specifics of the question..

SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos}:
I'd like to cool the background a little, but I've got a big, red barn to deal with, too, and I don't want it to look purple, nor do I want to turn everyone's shirts to a dingy cream. Thoughts?
Thank you.

You're welcome, I hope it works out for you. You can easily use your strobes in the same way too.
Mr. Speedlight Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mr. Speedlight (member) 5 years ago
...set up a neutral target, take a shot, and check the RGB histograms. Then, based on the peaks, I adjusted the WB using color temperature...

That's interesting. I need to remember this. Thanks!

---

Last time I shot a group I used a D300. Actually most of the shots were by a friend who is semi-quadraplegic and wheelchair bound with me being a human light stand. Then some including her where shot by me in a protected area using a light stand. The WB was set to Auto so most were shot with a flash WB since the camera was set to commander/CLS/TTL BL or some with a long TTL cord where I didn't think my SB-800 would catch the IR signals. One of the subjects is hemiplegic and was in a wheelchair most of the time. He can walk at a slow gate dragging one foot. The photos were for my friend's website.

The subjects, nine ranging from about six years to late thirties or early forties spoke Spanish as a second language and my friend also speaks Spanish as a second language. The kids speak English and Spanish fluently. I did OK dealing with the adults with my friend and their kids as interpreters. I felt my friend would shot better than I being able to converse with the adult subjects.

I made the settings on the camera for my friend as she normally shoots in programed mode and only auto WB. Exposure mode was manual for these shots. Shutter speed dropped from 1/250 to whatever was needed to hold a normal or slightly under exposed backgrounds. It was overcast and rained lightly once. The backgrounds were a bit cool but I didn't mind that. The flash didn't over power the backgrounds by choice.

I used a 42" white umbrella most of the time and a 36" semi-silvered umbrellas on the stand when I shot. At the end and after dark I shot some with my SB-800 at arm's length on a coiled TTL cord.

I've got an old Minolta Color Meter II that I used to use with my D2H since the D2H's auto WB wasn't too good. I also use Preset WB, more with the D2H but still with the D300s. I only use the K (Kelvin) temperature readings when I use the Color Meter II. It's a film era color meter so it offers daylight, type A and B film and gives LB (amber blue) and CC (magenta green) filter values as well as degree Kelvin. I've got a CC index to Decamireds graph in green and magenta to help select CC gels tapped on the back of the meter. I wonder what digital era color meters offer these days?

Anyway it went well and the shots were way better than my friend would have gotten by herself. She's a designer with a good eye but doesn't know much about her camera. I do most of her post processing.

I really wish there was a way to get more information out of the camera regarding what Auto WB and Preset WB is doing. There are times where one may want to exert more control than I did above. Again I wonder what today's color meters offer. I should check out Sekonic's offerings but full frame DSLR is my first priority.

I hope my question wasn't too off topic for Sara.

Dave Hartman
Commercial Photographer Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Commercial Photographer (member) 5 years ago
Mr. Speedlight:
I use the Color Meter II. It's a film era color meter so it offers daylight, type A and B film and gives LB (amber blue) and CC (magenta green) filter values as well as degree Kelvin. I've got a CC index to Decamireds graph in green and magenta to help select CC gels tapped on the back of the meter. I wonder what digital era color meters offer these days?


I use one of those still also with the flash attachment. Again, only the Kelvin is needed for conversions. The film type settings were used with film, but even using those you really needed to know how to interpret the readings, particularly if you wanted to avoid false looking images and even using the 'correct' filtration. Once it was stuck on transparency, theres no rubbing it out.

Using it today, or using a camera for white balance, providing you adhere to one single device for your colour sampling and treat the differences appropriately, any final adjustment required in post is simple and needs no piddling around.

As I pointed out previously the 5500°K setting for flash is pretty generic. Modifiers affect this, old modifiers affect this more and Speedlights/Speedlites/Strobes/Battery portables will all differ - even between same manufacturers and models :(
SaraKellyPhoto {Intrepid Photos} [deleted] 5 years ago
Thank you all! So best laid plans of mice and men, right? Turns out it wasn't grey or overcast. It was the sunniest day we've had in months as well as the windiest. Two of the folks I was shooting were elderly, so we ended up switching to a more protected location out of the wind. The shoot went pretty well, although I'm awfully tired. It was a long one. But no lights were needed, and I couldn't have managed them anyway because of the wind. Still, I'll remember your advice for next time. Thanks!
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