Back Modifications (4)
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The Busker

By JFitz
This is an image I uploaded some time ago and while I quite like it I have found it difficult to deal with the colour balance. Taken after dark in Ennis with a prominent mix of orange street lighting, Strip lights and outdoor electric heaters all adding their bit to the scene. The image was pretty saturated orange from the camera.

The hard working guitar was the focus of the shot and I have revisited it in an effort to get a bit more from this than the last time I looked at it.

Any input would be welcomeSmile

Tags: Portrait Photo journalism Street Guitar D300 Busker Portraits and people Ennis

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


dudler Plus
14 706 1351 England
1 Jul 2014 11:40PM
I remember this shot - and it still reminds me of my GP!

There's a lovely focus on the guitar and the busker's right hand: the heart of this picture, rather than the slightly-haunted eyes.

It's a brilliant shot: and my view is that there's no right answer in terms of colour balance. Mixed sources give odd results, and for me the test is whether it's credible, or effective. Deep orange (as in the earlier version) conveys a feeling of the street at night: this more corrected version is less locked into its setting.

However, if this worries you, I suspect Willie (banehawi) will be able to give excellent advice. My alternative is to suggest a monochrome version. Mod coming shortly. It may well be good in terms of atmosphere...

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Irishkate Plus
7 41 114 United Kingdom
2 Jul 2014 12:55AM
I think the colour balance is much better this time -as Dudler suggests Willie (banehawi)
is a bit of an expert on colour issues.
Your new version does look as if it's day time but the previous did look quite 'orangey' -tricky one
to get 'right'!
Kate GrinGrinGrin
Chinga Plus
7 3 1 United Kingdom
2 Jul 2014 2:29AM
I do like the facial expression and the light & shadow on the guitar...
tonyguitar 6 65 37 Canada
2 Jul 2014 3:29AM
I like it as is. The colour suggests a late sundown evening so that's fine. He looks like
there are challenges in his life. Seems good all around. TG
banehawi Plus
14 1.8k 3890 Canada
2 Jul 2014 4:59AM
It 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?


Nikonuser1 Plus
5 153 16 United Kingdom
2 Jul 2014 8:45AM
Have read the comments and some great advice has been given, just to add to Wiilie's about film, you also had different filters that corrected these cast's when useing a daylight film, ie a FL would be used under fluorescent lighting.

If you are useing Lghtroom in the Basics Panel you have the WB picker, or select As Shot, Auto, and Custom WB, with Custom you can alter the colour temperature and tint to what you perceive as right.

Totally agree with Willie about monitor calibration, I have a Spyder Pro4 can recomend this.

paulbroad 10 123 1249 United Kingdom
2 Jul 2014 9:50AM
Nice, and the colour is good. It suggests street lighting of the sodium variety and his look suggests ready to run if the law appears. I like it.

Colour balance? Does the image look good? If yes, the colour balance is right for the image, and who cares what it 'should be. I used to shoot quite a bit of technical stuff back in the late 60's and early 70's with Rolleiflex and, often, MPP 5x4. There were basically two film types as I remember and not for all different lighting. Not possible.

Daylight balanced and tungsten balanced. Mixed lighting is always a problem in the field, but in a studio we used tungsten lights and film. We had a set of Kodak Wratten colour correction filters and had a hand colour temperature meter. Knowing the Kelvin of the film, you added filters to correct the colour to that indicated on the meter. Blue shades to cool and red to increase.

Simple but a bind.

I know Willie advocates not using auto white balance. 99% of my images are on auto, which I find usually correct, but easy to alter in the RAW processor. The danger of setting other white balance values is knowing what the colour actually is - for example fluorescent light comes in many shades, and that you WILL forget to change the setting as light type changes.

JFitz Plus
9 418 5 Ireland
3 Jul 2014 11:21PM
Sorry for taking so long to respond but the feedback on this image has been fantastic a lot to take in. The mods are great. The black and white versions don't work for me in this context but my thanks to John and Willie for their efforts here. I have been trying to come up with a "correct" solution here that looked well but didn't look processed, but having seen Willie's mods, I can see that the creative eye works better here. I think willie's 2nd colour mod works best.

My monitor appears ok, I have just printed a load of my kids ballet and first communion images and they are all good. That doesn't really explain how my cheetah image became so saturated but I think I will put that down to the late hours in which I was tinkering with it.

My thanks to everybody for taking the time to offer advise and comment and again to Willie and Dudler for their Mods
dudler Plus
14 706 1351 England
4 Jul 2014 5:30AM
In the end, it's always about the result. What looks good, and what looks right...

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