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12/07/2014 - 5:08 PM

WB Experiment

WB ExperimentWelcome to the world of white balance Ishan.

Its incredibly important. Think of it as the "reference" the camera uses to set every one of the 16 million shades it captures. Thats how important it is. It affects everything on the image, including brightness, vibrance, colour tone, you name it. Thats why, in a good image editor, its the FIRST adjustment to be made; all other adjustments come after.

You ask a question that has no definitive answer; which does the viewer prefer? Each one will have a different point of view. Personal preferences. And we view the images on different monitors, in different places. All this influences preferences. For example, you mention the vibrancy of V1. I dont see that it has that quality as I understand it; its a subjective term, - what do you mean by it? The first viewer sees it as flat, - more like how I see it. Are you viewing on a good quality monitor thats NOT a laptop? Is it calibrated? Its all makes a difference.

Its also a loaded question, because you have shot both images using different metering and exposure, with different brightness levels. The more accurate of the two, from strictly an exposure perspective is V2, a much better exposure that V1. which is significantly underexposed. If I were to pick which of the two looked closer to my reality, it would be V2, - no contest at all. V2 is still a little underexposed, but not as much as V1. V1 is spot metered, V2 is centre weighted average, - much better for this shot than spot.

The question about how this Sony "Push Option" for white balance worked is again, as is everything about this camera, down to software trickery. It seems to me assuming what white actually should be using the image, and then using it as a reference. Not the right way to do it, but one way to produce an effect for you. Do you want accurate, or do you want an effect provided by software?

Both images will look different with exposure corrected ( I loaded mods of both); the question I have is what was the light actuall like at the time you took the shot? Was it cloudy? If so, then V2 is likely the most accurate shot. When I look at it, the WB appears quite close to what I see with my checks of black points; the V1 doesnt look at all right.

Its very easy to check and use a reliable reference for white balance Ishan. In most photo shops you can buy a grey card; a piece of 18% grey cardboard or plastic. You place it in the light you are using (in the garden here) and take a shot using auto wb; then use this shot as the reference white balcme for all others taken in the same light. if you shot RAW, you would open that grey shot first, click the white balance tool on the grey, read the white balance that results, and apply it to all other shots taken at that time. Its not rocket science. It just seems to be!


11/07/2014 - 2:55 PM

Wear and tear

Wear and tearHi Tracy.

Tanya is right, and to take it further, not just simple bracketing. You may need to take 5 or 6 exposures to get a good range of detail.

1. Shoot in RAW

2. Use ISO 100 only.

3. Tripod. With remote release ideally.

4. Manual focus.

5. Set aperture to be constant throughout all shots.

6. Either use your Exposure comp dial, taking a shot at each 1/3 stop; or if you use a manual setting, change your shutter speed by no more than 1/2 stop at a time and take a minimum of 5 shots; one at 0 EV and two at +, two at -.

You can either combine these manually, taking the best from each, or, as suggested, use Photoshop to import the raw images and produce an HDR image.

If you do HDR, you will need a tone mapping software like Photomatix which converts the range of tones in the 32bit original HDR file into tones an 8 bit monitor can display. This scene is ideal for HDR, but you do need a bit of practice to get the result to look right.

If you use a very wide aperture like here, you can probably get away with bracketing, but a smaller aperture of course will provide a lot more detail of the stairway.

Evey place I lived in Dublin was haunted Tracy, - man times by bill collectors and the ESB!

Loaded a mod that extracts some detail and reduces blows highlights.


10/07/2014 - 4:03 PM

Toadstools on windblown Ash

Toadstools on windblown AshWelcome to EPZ Andrew. The Critique Gallery is a good place to learn, and get honest feedback.

You ask a question that has some strings attached. Is it a good shot for someone who has only had 4 months with a DSLR and is still getting to grips with settings.

Lets ask, "is it a good shot", and the answer is no, not really, and I will get into detail about why in a minute.

If Im asked, "Is this a decent effort by someone that is learning and getting used to the camera" then the answer is yes, it is. You have done a lot right. You got down to the right level for the shot and you found a good subject. You made sure the camera was solid and steady, with no camera shake.
This is a difficult shot for experienced shooters.

Lets look at HOW you can make this a great shot. Things you need to know when taking this, and almost any shot.

First, the EXIF data does not have you cameras MODE, whether than Auto, P, A, S or M? I will assume its A or P, both auto modes.

The single, most significant issue with the shot that could be improved is the point where you focused. Look very closely at the small plants in front of the toadstools, and you will see they are quite sharp, showing that the camera focused in front of the toadstools. You can control this, especially in close shots, by using manual focus, not auto focus. Its pretty difficult to do this down this low, but it can be done.

Next is exposure, - the amount of light the camera captured for this image. Its underexposed, meaning that the shutter could have been open longer. After you take any shot, ply it back on the LCD and look at the histogram, - the graph; if its not extending towards the right, its underexposed; if it bunches up at the right edge, ts overexposed. Then you can take the shot again, and use Exposure Compensation, - check you manual, - its easy to do.

Thats mainly it. Good that you selected white balance yourself, - though I wounder if shade would be a better choice?

I uploaded a modification, scroll up, click the tab, and view the mod large, - mine is the second one. I have increased exposure and tweaked white balance. cant do anything about the toadstools not being in focus, but hopefully, when its brighter like this its easier to see where you did focus.

One final point. To get that area of sharpness to be deeper that it is, i.e to extend further towards the toadstools you use a smaller aperture. Thats the f number, and smaller means a larger number, so f/5.6 is bigger than f/11 as an example.

If you are inclined, check out my blog, theres a lot of useful information there for beginners from the critique team.

Enjoy the site.


09/07/2014 - 3:05 PM

Street Darkness

Street DarknessThere is an isseu with the white balance, or colour tone, of the original. As mentioned, its very yellow, and that influences how the mono conversion will look.

Its difficult to actuall determine what white balance should have been. There is some real yellow in the scene, and whatever lighting is used, - assuming street lighting, has caused the yellow, but I find it strange the camera didnt try to perform any correction at all. Unless this is actually the correction the camera made, reacting to a very blue light, and got it wrong.

Either way, set the camera to the type of light you are shooting in for white balance, dont leave it to auto.

Uploaded mods, and a mono created from a colour with less yellow.


08/07/2014 - 2:38 PM


GrowingYes, its underexposed quite a bit.

You can tell when you take the shot by viewing it on your cameras LCD and using the histogram, - it will show that it stops well short of the right hand limit, and is close to a full stop underexposed; this allows you to re take the shot and add a +1 exposure compensation for a better exposure.

I have uploaded a mod with exposure corrected. White balance is also a little warmer in the mod.


07/07/2014 - 5:45 PM


BluebellTheres an interesting review of that lens HERE

Looks like the centre mainly is sharp at f/1.8, so think about either stopping down to f/5.6 if your subject is outside the centre, or use 1.8 and place the subject in the centre of the lens. It can be cropped later.


07/07/2014 - 4:23 PM


BluebellWelcome to EPZ Tracy.

This is an attractive, shallow, soft image. The out of focus background is really smooth and lovely.

The camera doent recognise your lens, - perhaps its a manual lens? Lets know.

The focal point, those bluebells on the left are a little too soft I think, and their position may be too far to the left.

Theres a bunch of bluebells competing for attention further right, and it might be a good idea to remove them, so the eye has one place to focus. Sharpen the subject flowers a little also.

I have uploaded a mod to show what I mean; scroll up, click the modifications tab and view the mod large.

Enjoy the site,


07/07/2014 - 3:34 PM

Damselflies on Lily

Damselflies on LilyIt depends.

You have had good results with auto for some time, and in fact most people do.

If you want to venture outside of auto, what you will gain is more control over all aspects of the shot. But thats if you want to have that control, as it also implies that you know and understand the elements you control.

In this shot, the auto high speed has done well. It doesnt always, and thats where taking control helps.

The settings the camera selected are based on the available light, and the mode you selected. It has chosen a fast shutter, as you instructed, and to get the shutter fast, it has increased ISO to 640. Using a 300mm lens you would need a shutter speed of at least 1/500 to hand hold; the camera accidentally chose a speed faster, - it has no idea you are using 300mm. So thats an advantage of control, - you know what you need.

I assume you wanted to get the dragonflies sharp? Then you could have used a slower shutter, say 1/1000, and this would have allowed you to use a lower ISO, around 300. This would give you a better quality image if you wanted to print a large copy, but on screen, there would be little to no visible difference.

So when I say it depends, its really about the extent to which you want to control the outcome; and given that the way you currently shoot has been reasonably successful you need to weigh the pros and cons.

The image here is not bad, but it is underexposed. You could have used a + exposure compensation I think in the mode you were in, and the camera would either slow the shutter, or increase the ISO to achieve the result.

A quick mod uploaded with increased exposure.


05/07/2014 - 4:33 PM


JuicyThis is a good example of how a diffusion panel can have a very positive effect.

Niceley detailed shot; you can very slightly reduce highlights on the head in post processing, but its quite good as it is.

Better to see the entire wing, but you make up for it in excellent detail and colour.


05/07/2014 - 4:01 PM


UntitledIve uploaded a few options Mike.

I think part of the issue for me is f/32; theres too much of the scene thats in focus, and the mods have as a common base the application of a tilt/shift filter to gradually blur as the distance increases.

It suits a pano format when the visible upper left becomes less visible, - I find I want to look at that area when its fairly well focused.

Later version have the foreground a little less distinct, to suggest mist all over the shot.

Hope it gives you some ideas.


04/07/2014 - 11:42 PM


pokerDo you mean in post processing, or when taking a similar shot again?

Dont see a whole lot wrong with it, what do you think needs changing?

Loaded a quick mod with minor changes. Very slightly brighter, warmer tone, and added some space at the top for an A4 crop.

The stack of chips in the middle is not visible in any detail, so doing it over they need to be in the light.

BTW, when you are in Manual mode, using exposure compensation has no effect, - it just shows on the EC dial and the exif. All parameters are under your control, the camera can do nothing.


04/07/2014 - 6:16 PM

Yellow Window

Yellow WindowI like it Mile.

That fish eye effect is not something you would normally get with the iPhone 5 unless you were really close, or you used an app, or a clip-on lens?

The native phone has a wide range of effects that can be used, - did you take advantage of any of these?

Anyway, I like it, I like the curved effect, and the mood it conveys.

Its underexposed a little for me, so a little brighter and a calibration of white and black make it more orange than yellow in the mod.

Hard to critique most phone shots, unless its a type that is a camera first and a phone second, like some of the Nokia models.


THE TOWERING CRISIS OF THE CO-OPERATIVEA very disturbing Orwellian story, - quite awful. I have never experienced anything like it.

The image.

1. Not wobbly
2. It is what it was
3. It looks big and ominous.
4. Its decent.
5. Very odd light.
6. I see no guards.

Complete success!

However, still can be tweaked a bit. Shooting upwards, its naturally underexposed unless you apply +1 exposure compensation, which I assume is illegal in Manchester. The mod addresses that. You dont need f/16 for this at all, f/5,6 or f/8 would be fine unless the building is 2 miles high?

The centre of the building indicates it needs a slight rotation; dont use the edge as a guide, but the centre.

Two mods uploaded, one as described, the other as read from your story Ms Orwell.


02/07/2014 - 7:29 PM


EmilyHi Marty. I notice you use Manual mode most or all of the time, and images are often underexposed, as this one is.

Most photographers would use manual in a studio setting, and then aperture priority for the vast majority of other shots. Shutter priority for sports and moving birds or animals.

In this shot, the metering and exposure is set for the light behind Emily, whereas it would be best to set it for her face, and not the background; this means increasing exposure.

However, if we assume you retain the 40mm focal length, you have three methods available to increase exposure: Slow shutter speed down to allow more light, - but its way too slow as it is, so thats not an option. You need a faster shutter, AND more light; next is aperture, - and its already completely open wide, so you cant do anything about this; the remaining option is ISO. You would need to increase to around ISO800 to expose Emily's face correctly.

If you didnt retain 40mm, then a wider aperture would allow the slower speed. Keep in mid the rule for minumum hand hell shutter speed; its 1/focal length at 35mm equivalent; your camera is a crop camera, so the 35mm equivalent is always the focal length X 1.5; so at 40mm, you need 1/60; at 18mm you need 1/30, etc.

She is a very pretty girl, - photogenic with those lovely eyes too. I did upload a mod that has exposure increased on her face only.

Try P mode to see what the camera itself does on its own; look at the settings it uses; then you can get an idea of where you would set your manual settings; however, I would strongly advise you try and practice with Aperture priority and get familiar with it.

Hope this helps, and just PM me if you need clarification or more information.


02/07/2014 - 1:19 PM

wedding :)

wedding :)The pose works for the bride, but not the groom for me.

He looks awkward, and seems more interested in his watch than in her.

Since your shooting mode is not listed (Aperture/Shutter/Auto/manual) I assume its Aperture, and the flash worked as a fill flash.

The eye contact with the bride is very good, with nice detail. The dress is not actually overexposed, however it looks like the fill flash reduced any slight shadows that could have provided texture. Its till a good idea though to use it. Reducing highlights can improve the detail.

The dark tones of his suit are a little washed out, and also can be recovered, which improves contrast.

Loaded mod.


02/07/2014 - 4:59 AM

The Busker

The BuskerIt is difficult to deal with colour balance, both for you in post processing, and for the camera.

Essentially in artificial light, and especially mixed artificial light, all bets are off.

The function of white balance, to use a film analogy, is to load the camera with the right film for the prevailing ambient light. In film days, there was the everyday sunny film, most often used for snaps, but there were specialty films used for artificial lights, sodium lights, flash, etc. that John could speak loads about.

The function of colour corrected film and of white balance, is to correct for unwanted colour casts that will show in the image, that we wont notice in real life, as our eyes can auto correct with no batteries or film! Now the important words are unwanted colour casts. Sometimes you will want a colour cast to show, as its complementary to the scene, and adds to the mood. With colour cats that are the result of coloured light that we can see, - stage lighting is an example, - we should see the colour tone that was used.

I think this version to me is better than the last only because it has a more believable orange tone.

If this was to be strictly corrected to have no ambient light cast, the result would be as in mod1, which lacks life in comparison to your shot; and the next mod is that same correction with an orange tone applied, - its getting closer to what you have. Mod 1 has a colour temperature closer to 2000k, which means, as far as the camera is concerned, that it looking at a tungsten bulb, so it should add blue to correct the orange cast. Luckily, AWB is so useless, it didnt, and the result is quite good. As I mentioned, if the lighting was visibly orange to you at the time, it should be visible orange here. Thats accurate colour.

In a measurable light temperature, like daylight sunlight, shade, its more important to get colour to be accurate; and AWB is woefully bad in the everyday bright daylight situation, so that I would correct. This is a lot more as you like it.

After all is said and done, dont forget the old reliable mono, which works very well in a scene like this, and I also loaded a mono mod.

Now, - what was it you didnt lie about the balance? Is you monitor calibrated?


01/07/2014 - 11:02 PM

Yamaha Moon Light

Yamaha Moon LightDid you use a light painting technique, or have a large static torch providing the light?

I dont see a major lack of sharpness, - are you referring to your original, or the version here, or both?

What I do see is that the bike is underexposed; it can do with a little more light to get the areas that should be white, actually white. The Moon in the clouds is very well exposed, so it looks like the exposure is too short for the bike, great for the Moon.The L sticker is a reference for white.

I did brighten it in the mod, cropped a little closer. Its quite a decent shot.

You selected f/4, - better to try f/5.6, its the aperture where your lens performs sharpest centre to edge, considerably better than f/4. Its not causing any problem, - just for the next time.


01/07/2014 - 10:25 PM

beach sunset

beach sunsetThanks for uploading the original.

As mentioned it needs a slight rotation to be level, - not a bif issue, its small.

Lets clarify nomenclature first. HDR is not done with a single exposure; a rather weak effoert can be done using three exposures at different shutter speeds (some cameras use this method); actual HDR requires a minimum of 7 exposures that are run through an HDR programme to produce a 32 bit image. This image can be Tone-Mapped to extract information thats not visible on 8 bit displays. Photomatix is often used. It was originally designed to work exclusively on 32 and 16 bit images, but it also now does 8 bit images which dont have the detail needed to actually tone map.

HDR is designed for low light situations with levels that exceed the cameras dynamic range (think inside a church with glass windows), and where there is absolutely NO movement. It would not be suitable at all for this scene.

What you have here is not HDR, but some variation of a technique, similar to exposure bracketing. CS for example has an HDR simulation that uses the shadow and highlight tool to get some weird effects.

lesson ended!

The original shows your challenge. As Nick and John mentioned the Sun should not be in the frame at all. It has driven you exposure well down, despite your +1 compensation which is recorded in the exif file on the original image, but not captured here in the site.

Another thing thats happened is your white balance has tried to kill the warm tones, - not very successfully, but it has reduced them. Set this manually to get best resuts.

In the mod, I have tried to give an impression of what the image could be without the Sun; those rays that appear below the hill would show above the hill, into the sky; the exposure would have been brighter, and the colour balance warmer. Take a look at the stones on the beach and see the difference.

Hope you can take some tips from this,


01/07/2014 - 5:54 PM



Look at Gaussian Blur overlays in the tutorials.

Nice, and again less is more for me. I know what you were trying to do. Unfortunately her shoes appear to be coming out of her head, so this pose can work better shot from a high pov to some legs are visible.

The end of the bed, being quite blurred looks like a dark bar and can easily be removed by painting over it with the same background colour thats behind the rail.

The exposure seems to have been influenced by bright light on her arm, resulting in an underexposed face,and the arm could well be shading her face too?

Tone is a personal choice. Applying a tone to a mono can sometimes kill all contrast depending on how the tone is applied; I suspect thats what happened here; just think what would happen if you held a coloured glass in front of a scene, - bright and dark areas will take up the colour of the glass; what you need is to find a way to do this while maintaining opasity, - Im sure Gimp has a way.

Anyway, mono mod loaded, a lot less in the shot that before, but I think it works.

You are not uploading your shot settings, - this is essential for us to really help, - you can add them in a comment, or if you dont know how to, let us know.

Mod2 looks better.


01/07/2014 - 5:24 PM


PortraitIts a well shot and nicely posed shot.

I downloaded it to take a closer look, and made the following observations before uploading the mod.

Crop to a printable size, A4 works well.

Theres a stray hair running across the left of her face towards her eye, easily removed.

Her skin tone is overly red to me. I have found that Canon always favour red in skin tones, and with my own camera, and in many mods, I always reduce red. As and example, Olympus favour magenta, and Nikon are more yellow! Anyway, see what you think.

I would be a little more aggressive with softening, especially at the bottom of her chin.

Increase exposure on her face overall, just a little.

A slight increase in the use of the dodge tool around the eyes would be my preference.

The result is in the mod.

Think about leaving your flash up for a shot like this, it will lift the shadows on the face by firing on low power as a fill flash. If youve ever watched professional wedding photographers at work in daylight, their flash is always on for the same reason.

Hope this is helpful,