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Big Bird

By Alanh1920
Hi, I'm new to photography and this is my first upload. I spent the day at Dublin Zoo and took numerous photos but the majority are as above and lack colour as I saw it on the day. The day was pretty overcast with sunny spells.

Any help would be appreciated as i am unsure how to set the camera up to reslove this problem!


Critique is greatly welcomed.

Tags: General Wildlife and nature

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ams99 Junior Member 9 65 9 England
31 Mar 2012 8:46PM
Despite the obvious colour cast i think this is a good effort under difficult circumstances. I have no idea about your camera but a few tips for the future.

You don't need such a huge depth of field for this type of image and therefore shouldn't really be shooting with the aperture at f22. If you increase the aperture (lower f number) to f8 this will give you a higher shutter speed.

Trying to shoot at 1/10 sec at 100mm + focal length is a difficult ask. Assuming you didn't use a tripod you must have very steady hands to produce this image without too much camera shake. A good effort in that respect.

A better shutter speed would be in the order of 1/200 sec. In order to get this then increase the aperture (lower f number) or / and increase the ISO value. If your camera has shutter priority the set it to the required shutter speed and let the camera do the calculations for you.

Keep trying the different modes....... and have fun. Lots of people on here are more than willing to offer advice.

PS Welcome to EPZ


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Steve-T Plus
13 56 66 England
31 Mar 2012 9:03PM
I am thinking that your issue may have something to do the with white balance settings. I am not familiar with your camera and I can't give you a long explanation of colour temperature and white balance, however, I suspect that your camera gives options that allow you to describe the day - cloudy, sunny etc. There is probably an auto option as well. The wrong option can cause a colour cast. This can be corrected with software - see mod. I am sure someone more technical can explain this better for you. Welcome to EPZ. Steve.
Steve-T Plus
13 56 66 England
31 Mar 2012 9:43PM
BTW - there are lots of resources on the site. Here is a link that will explain white balance more clearly. Steve.
Alanh1920 8 1 Northern Ireland
31 Mar 2012 10:11PM
Hi guys, thanks for the welcome and the quick and very helpful hints.

Alan - will definitely give the shutter priority a try and yes it was hand held for the shot.

Steve, having read the link you attached it seems like the white balance could be the issue. I really like the mod you sent through, could i be a nuisance and ask how easy that is to do. I have PS CS5 extended.


Steve-T Plus
13 56 66 England
31 Mar 2012 11:43PM
Hi Alan, there are several ways to achieve this. The simplest is to open the file and use the auto options e.g auto colour, auto contrast. Alternatively open the file in the raw converter and alter the temperature (you can use the auto options here as well as a guide). These days the auto options are pretty good and you can then use it as a benchmark to make other adjustments according to taste. Hope that helps. Steve.
Jestertheclown 11 8.2k 253 England
31 Mar 2012 11:49PM
I've just opened your image in Lightroom, applied 'auto W/B' and got pretty much the same result as Steve's mod. so I'm guessing that therein lies your problem.
The 'auto' option's OK if you're in a hurry but really, you'll be better off in the long run, making your own decisions. Personally, I seldom use 'auto' anything.
You can either adjust your camera's settings to (hopefully) suit the conditions each and every time you take a shot, or you can leave it set to 'auto W/B' and correct it in software later.
You don't say whether you're shooting in RAW but making the necessary changes will be much easier and more effective if you do.
CS5 comes with a RAW converter, if you don't have Lightroom. You can make the adjustments using that.
Hope this helps.

DRicherby 11 269 726 United Kingdom
31 Mar 2012 11:50PM
Welcome to ePhotozine!

The first thing I notice about your shot is that it's very blue, which is a white balance problem. Within normal ranges, your brain automatically corrects for the colour of the light so, for example, a white car will look white to you on a sunny day and on a cloudy day, even though the light is much bluer when it's cloudy. In extreme situations, your eyes can't cope so the car would look at least slightly orange at sunset, for example. The camera isn't that smart and it can't tell the difference between a white car in bluish light and a bluish car under white light so it has to guess. Usually, it does a decent job but sometimes, it can be totally wrong. Correcting this in software should be easy but I don't use Photoshop so I can't tell you exactly how to do it. There should be an option for changing white balance and it should let you choose from a list of options like "daylight", "cloudy" and so on. As a first try, choose the option that sounds most like the lighting conditions you were shooting in. If that doesn't work, try some of the others. If it still doesn't work, you should be able to click on a region of the image that you know should be white or pure grey, such as the neck feathers. (Don't use his forehead because that's slightly over-exposed and is already pure white.) And if that doesn't work, there should be a slider you can adjust until you get the colours looking natural. When you set the white balance correctly in Photoshop, it'll look like somebody just peeled a layer of blue cellophane off your photo!

Now, a quick guide to the fundamental camera settings.

Aperture controls depth of field. You focus the camera on a particular point and the depth of field is a measure of how far in front and behind of that point is in decently sharp focus. Narrower apertures (higher f-numbers) give larger depth of field. Shallower depth of field can be useful to isolate a subject and make it stand out against its background; large depth of field is useful when you want the whole photograph to be sharp. The cost of using a narrower aperture are that you need a slower shutter speed to let enough light into the camera to get a good exposure.

Shutter speed is how long the camera takes in light to make the photograph. You need the shutter speed to be fast enough to avoid camera shake (the camera moving about because you're a human being and can't stand perfectly still) and, normally, to avoid motion blur from the subject moving about. For your camera, when hand-holding, you ideally want a shutter speed of 1/(2 x focal length) or faster to avoid camera shake, though you can afford to go a little slower than that if your lens has an image stabilizer. Bracing yourself against a wall or the ground will let you go a bit slower, too. On a solid tripod, you only need the shutter speed to be fast enough to freeze unwanted subject movement.

ISO is the camera's sensitivity to light. Higher ISO means more sensitivity so you can use a faster shutter speed but the cost is that your image will be noisier. As such, you usually want to use the lowest ISO that gives you the shutter speed you need.

Your shot was taken at aperture f/22, shutter speed 1/10s and ISO-100, with a focal length of 136mm. Let's look at those in turn.

Aperture. f/22 is very narrow and is giving way more depth of field than you need for this shot. On your camera, something in the region of f/5.6 should give you all the depth of field you need to get the heron sharp, and the difference between f/22 and f/5.6 is that you can make your shutter speed sixteen times faster. (Halving the f-number makes your shutter four times faster.)

Shutter speed. 1/10s is very slow and I'm very surprised that you managed to get a sharp photograph using it. Your target is 1/(2 x 136), which is about 1/250s or faster.

ISO. ISO-100 gives you the highest quality but, here, I think you need to push it up a bit. Going to f/5.6 will only get your shutter to 1/160s, which isn't really fast enough, but going to ISO-200 will double your shutter speed again, to 1/320s (faster than your target). To be honest, you won't notice the very slight increase in noise.

Now, in practice, most photographers don't set the three parameters independently. Your camera has three modes: aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual. In all three, you set the ISO. In aperture priority, you choose the aperture and the camera picks the shutter speed to give the right exposure; shutter priority is the other way around; and, in full manual, you choose the aperture and the shutter speed and it's up to you to get the exposure right.

Alan recommends that you use shutter priority but I disagree. Unless you're trying to get deliberate motion blur in a photograph, your only requirement on the shutter speed is that be fast enough to avoid camera shake and subject movement. As long as the shutter speed is fast enough, you usually don't care how fast it actually is: if all you need is 1/250s or faster, it doesn't matter if the actual shutter speed is 1/250s, 1/500s or 1/1000s. But you do care about aperture. Sometimes, you want a wide aperture (small f-number) to isolate a subject against a blurred background; other times, you want a narrow aperture (large f-number) to get everything in the photo sharp. The camera can't read your mind so it doesn't know what you want. As such, it makes much more sense for you to control the aperture, which is an important creative decision, and let the camera control the shutter speed, which usually just needs to be "fast enough".

So, unless you want deliberate motion blur, I recommend that you use aperture priority mode. With practice, you'll get a feel for roughly what aperture you'll need to get a particular effect and you can always check on the back of the camera after you shoot. You'll probably find that apertures in the range of widest-possible to about f/11 are the most useful. When you're shooting in aperture priority mode, check that the camera is giving a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake: if it isn't, either widen the aperture (if you think you can) or increase the ISO (if you can accept the extra noise) or brace yourself against something solid (if you can) or, as a last resort, cross your fingers and hope the image stabilizer will get you out of trouble. Usually, it's better to have a sharp photo that's a bit noisy than a soft photo that has no noise.

Note that depth of field actually depends on three things: aperture, focal length and distance to the subject. As I said above, narrower apertures mean more depth of field. Also, shorter focal lengths give more DoF and you get more DoF when focusing on a more distant subject. Note that the last two things cancel out so, to take your heron as an example, if you used a shorter focal length but also moved closer to the heron so it was the same size in the frame, you'd get exactly the same depth of field.

OK, that was rather long but I hope it was helpful!

banehawi Plus
16 2.2k 4137 Canada
1 Apr 2012 5:29AM
Hi Alan, welcome to EPZ - Ive loaded a mod with the colour balance adjusted. Lots of great advice above, and its certainly a white balance issue. I have taken shots of this same heron at the Dublin Zoos seal pool, where they hang out. You may have inadvertently had your white balance set to florescent, whereas auto, or cloudy would be better.

If you take the shot in RAW, you can easily correct white balance in post processing, but its a little more difficult if you use JPEF.

Heres a link to a method that works most of the time. I used it on this, but and it reduced blue, but the shot still didnt look right, so I used the colour balance adjustment to further reduce blue:

A hidden gem though, and one you could try first in CS5, is Image>adjustment>match colour, and click neutralize. You can often get a really good result with this.

heres a link to my shot:

As a new member, something you likely dont know - you can click "Like" if theres any feedback you like, and also, if any feedback is something you regard as being especially constructive and helpful, and contributes to your skill and knowledge, you can click the "Nominate as Constructive Critique" link at the bottom of any post. This allows the poster to accrue Constructive Critique points, - and you can also accrue points yourself as you become familiar with the site and can help others.


paulbroad 12 131 1288 United Kingdom
1 Apr 2012 8:02AM
A lot of advice. I suggest you leave white balance on auto - it works 99.9% of the time perfectly well. If you start using specific settings you will forget you are on one and shoot the wrong colours. If you use a preset - always reset to auto after the shot. I am amazed how well you did at 1/10 sec. (We don't have another 1 April image here do we?)

Alanh1920 8 1 Northern Ireland
1 Apr 2012 11:41PM
Hi guys,

Firstly thanks for all your help. Having read through all your posts I have gone through my camera settings and found the white balance on the 'sunny day' setting. I'm assuming this was the cause and have changed it to auto. Must have unknowingly changed it whilst flicking through the menus!!!

Paul - I can honestly say its not an April Fools image, as I have lots of other images of animals with the same issue. BTW it was hand held but I may have been resting my elbows on the enclosure fence.

Willie - Thanks for you help, I have my camera set up to record in both JPEG and RAW so i will be able to play around with the post processing in both formats.

Dave - So much helpful information for me to get my head around. Many thanks.

I have played about with numerous other pics taken on the day now, and have been able to process them through all the advice given above to acceptable levels.

Excellent and professional help by all.

Thanks, Alan

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